Masataka Yoshida came over from Japan last season and in his first season with the Boston Red Sox, showed he can certainly hit MLB pitching.

Yoshida was a key bat in the Red Sox order and he finished the 2023 campaign leading the team with a .289 batting average to go along with 15 home runs, 72 RBIs and eight stolen bases.

His plate discipline, which he was known for when he signed a five-year, $90 million deal with Boston last offseason, was there too with Yoshida striking out 81 times in 580 plate appearances. The 30-year-old had the 10th-best strikeout rate among all qualified hitters in the big leagues.

The Red Sox will look for Yoshida to build off those results as his comfort level surely will be greater with having to make fewer adjustments during his second season with Boston. And Yoshida is keeping his approach simple when targeting goals for this season.

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“The main thing I kind of focus on is trying to hit hard,” Yoshida told reporters through a translator at JetBlue Park on Monday, per team-provided video. “Outcome I can’t really control, but the process of it, I have control over that. So, that’s something that I want to focus on this year offensively.”

It’s understandable why Yoshida wants more hard contact. According to Baseball Savant, he had an average exit velocity of 89 last season, which was outside the top 100 hitters in MLB and was behind Red Sox teammates Connor Wong, Alex Verdugo, Justin Turner, Jarren Duran, Triston Casas and Rafael Devers.

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Getting more power out of Yoshida also would be of benefit to Boston — the most home runs he hit in a season in Nippon Professional Baseball was in 2019 — but he didn’t get into any more specifics when discussing his goals.

One thing Yoshida, who is expected to undergo a role change with the Red Sox, will want to improve upon is having an impact bat in the latter stages of the season unlike last year. Adjusting to a long MLB season clearly took its toll on the left-handed hitter, who batted .254 after the All-Star break after hitting a robust .316 in the first half of the season. Yoshida recorded his worst batting average of the season in September and October, hitting .253 in 23 games.

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Yoshida said he worked on his conditioning in the offseason and that could aid in him having a more consistent bat as the months go on.

“Now that I spent one year in the big leagues, I know my routines at home and away,” Yoshida said. “I’m ready for that.”

Featured image via Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports Images