Yoshinobu Yamamoto Faces All-Star Expectations, Kodai Senga’s Rookie Exploits Set High Benchmark

Published 02/11/2024, 9:00 AM EST

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After months of offseason drama, ballparks are about to be filled again. One of the biggest stories heading into the 2024 season is how will the record pitching signing Yoshinobu Yamamoto fare in his first season in the Major Leagues. Most of his career till now has been filled with him making history, will he continue that hot streak? There’s a difference in the level of NPB and MLB but some players have made strong first impressions. Yamamoto could join that list soon.

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While one can go back in time and talk about Yu Darvish or Masahiro Tanaka, a recent example can give an idea of what Yamamoto could do. Could the superstar recreate what his compatriot Kodai Senga did in 2023? 

Yoshinobu Yamamoto – a top rookie?

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Since Yamamoto first set foot in the States, there has been buzz about what his first year in the league would look like. How long would it take for the 3x Pacific League MVP to find his groove in the major leagues? There was Shohei Ohtani, who immediately hit the ground running but to compare Yamamoto to a generational talent like Ohtani this soon wouldn’t be fair. A fairer hope would be a rookie season like Kodai Senga.

After coming off a successful NPB stint, Senga entered the MLB with much hype in 2023. Unfortunately, he was a part of an underperforming New York Mets squad. However, while the team faltered, Senga became the world who held the ship together. With a 12-7 record, Senga pitched to a 2.98 ERA (via Baseball Reference) in an All-Star season. Eventually, Senga came in 7th in Cy Young votes and second in Rookie of the Year votes. 

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Could Yamamoto recreate that season? Possibly. Till now, Yamamoto has seen far higher highs than nearly every pitcher. He is a 3x PL MVP and a 3x Eiji Sawamura winner, and just 25 years old so there is a seemingly unending potential here. So if Yamamoto can continue with that momentum, the sky is the limit for him. 

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Fortunately, there is already some positive news coming from the Dodgers camp about Yamamoto’s form. 

The ace gets praise from his new teammates

During an interview with the LA Times, Yamamoto’s teammate Gavin Lux was all praises for him. Calling his four-pitch mix “really nasty”, Lux declared, “I think he’s gonna have a lot of success really fast.”  So clearly, Yamamoto has already begun impressing his teammates. Now the question is will he continue this good form through the opening day? 

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The Dodgers are aiming for the ultimate prize this season. With stars like Ohtani and Yamamoto with them, they do look much ahead of the competition. Imagine if they do succeed, what a story would that be for the young Yamamoto?

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Written by:

Sanskar Dubey

601Articles

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“Rigidity leads to demise, while adaptability paves the path to vitality." Driven by a deep passion for sports, I’m glad I found baseball. Now serving as an MLB writer at EssentiallySports, I love to write about the thrilling tussle between the National League and American League throughout the season, although I may have a fondness for a particular Yankees icon named Alex Rodriguez.
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