Masataka Yoshida heating up before second half could save Red Sox's contender status

Boston Red Sox v Miami Marlins
Boston Red Sox v Miami Marlins / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

The Boston Red Sox have gone on a hot streak at the right time. The once-middling ballclub has forced its way into the American League wild card race, and forced the front office to rethink its approach at the trade deadline.

As rumors have swirled around Boston's fate, experts have suggested that it may need to revamp its designated hitter spot. Masataka Yoshida took them personally.

Red Sox Nation had high expectations for the Nippon Professional Baseball veteran after his first campaign stateside. Yoshida batted .289/.338/.445 in 2023, but his average clocked in over .300 for much of the season.

Yoshida stalled at the plate to begin his 2024 season, as he did at the start of his first season in Boston — he's a notorious slow-starter, even throughout his NPB career. The thumb strain that sidelined him for all of May and the start of June led to another rough offensive stretch after his activation from the injured list.

Red Sox's Masataka Yoshida's recent adjustment has transformed his offense

But, like the rest of his teammates, Yoshida is heating up at the right time. He's batting .440/.500/.520 in his last seven games and he's posted five hits in Boston's series against the Marlins. Yoshida said "keeping it simple" has been the key to his recent success.

“If it’s an outside pitch, go the opposite way and stay basic. That’s the approach I’m sticking with right now. I’ve been able to stay inside the ball. I’m trying to get that good angle swinging to the ball. Things are starting to go in my direction,” he said, through interpreter Yutaro Yamaguchi.

When things go Yoshida's way, his teammates benefit. He's not known for his power, but the Red Sox have the speed and athleticism to capitalize whenever the ball is in play, provided the right players are on base. Yoshida struck out and grounded out more often than he's used to at the beginning of the season, but his keen eye seems to have adjusted.

Hopefully, his adjustment lasts. Alex Cora described his DH as "a professional hitter," and when he's on, that's an understatement.

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