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|Tokyo Yakult Swallows – No. 1|
July 16, 1992 |
Toyooka, Hyōgo, Japan
|April 5, 2012, for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows|
|Career highlights and awards|
At age 19, Yamada debuted in his rookie season. He was limited to 24 games and hit one home run with a .250 batting average, in only 49 plate appearances.
Yamada played 94 games but greatly improved his hitting ability by striking out 37 times versus 39 base on balls. He hit 3 home runs, stole 9 bases, hit .283 with an OBP of .354.
Yamada had a breakout season in his first full season as an everyday player. In 143 games, he hit 29 home runs, with 39 doubles and 89 RBI. He scored 106 runs, stole 15 bases and hit .324 with an OBP of .403.
Yamada was named Central League MVP in 2015 after leading the league in home runs (38), doubles (38), runs scored (119), and stolen bases (34). This marked the first time any NPB player led the league in home runs and stolen bases in the same year. He also drove in 100 RBI with a batting average of .329 and an OBP of .416. The Swallows reached the Japan Series in the same season. In Game 3 of the series, Yamada hit three home runs in consecutive plate appearances. In assessing his MVP season in October 2015, the Japan Times wrote, "Yamada had a 2015 the likes of which is seldom seen in Japanese baseball."
He followed up his MVP campaign with another great season. He hit 38 home runs, 26 doubles, and had 102 RBI. He also scored 102 runs, stole 30 bases, hit .304 and had an OBP of .425.
- 2017 World Baseball Classic
Yamada represented the Japan National Baseball Team in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. Japan Manager Kokubo started defensive whiz Ryosuke Kikuchi at second base so Yamada was the team's designated hitter. On offense, he was used as a lead off hitter and also batted in the middle of the lineup. During this tournament, Yamada's hitting and speed was on full display. He is also a very patient hitter who can go deep in counts but this also leaves him vulnerable to strike outs.
- Nippon Professional Baseball http://npb.jp/bis/eng/players/91895133.html. Retrieved 14 February 2016. Missing or empty
- Nagatsuka, Kaz. "Yakult's Yamada, Softbank's Yanigata win MVP Awards". The Japan Times. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
- Coskrey, Jason. "Yamada Stakes Claim as Top Player". The Japan Times. Retrieved 14 February 2016.
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