Many so-called “experts” questioned the Boston Red Sox signing Masataka Yoshida over the Major League Baseball offseason.

Not because Yoshida was a bad player during his time in Japan. He was a star overseas. But because the Red Sox made a significant financial commitment for an unproven commodity at a time when the organization was nearing a crossroads.

Well, score one for Boston.

Yoshida has been excellent in his first season with the Red Sox, leading the team in wRC+ (145), batting average (.317), on-base percentage (.391) and slugging percentage (.508) through Boston’s first 55 games. Only Alex Verdugo (1.6) has more fWAR than Yoshida (1.2), and that’s largely a product of the former being a superior defender and baserunner. Yoshida, by and large, has been Boston’s best offensive player in 2023.

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Although many were skeptical of the Red Sox paying $90 million over five years (plus a $15.4 million posting fee to the Orix Buffaloes) for Yoshida, the outfielder’s agent, Scott Boras, was adamant after the sides struck a deal that his client would thrive as a big leaguer. Why, you ask?

“Flat bat swing and zone management,” Boras said, according to’s Ian Browne, during the Red Sox’s trip to Anaheim last week. “Those were the two biggest factors, and then you put him at Fenway, where he can stay inside the baseball. You’ve seen it all now. It’s like, I just felt he was the perfect fit. I give (Red Sox chief baseball officer) Chaim (Bloom) and his staff credit because they certainly agreed with our assessment.”

Several teams expressed interest in Yoshida — about three others, besides Boston, agreed with Boras’ evaluation of the outfielder, the agent told Browne — but the Red Sox clearly were most aggressive in their pursuit. And to say it worked out well for Boston would be an understatement, even with the Red Sox entering Thursday night’s series finale against the Cincinnati Reds sitting just one game above .500 (28-27).

Featured image via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images