Munetaka Murikami and Yoshinobu Yamamoto have put themselves firmly on the major league radar with their performances in Nippon Professional Baseball. Their 2022 campaigns helped further that attention.
Both Murikami and Yamamoto earned their league’s MVP awards for the 2022 season. And, in both cases, it was the second consecutive year that they were so honored.
Munetaka Murikami, Yoshinobu Yamamoto add to NPB legacies
Murikami made history during the 2022 campaign. He was the first Central League player since 1986 to win the Triple Crown, and at 22 years old, the youngest player in league history to do so. He posted a stellar .318/.458/.711 batting line in 612 plate appearances, his 56 homers a record for the most hit in a season by a native of Japan. That showing made Murikami the first player in the league to unanimously be named the league MVP since the legendary Sadaharu Oh back in 1977.
Yamamoto may be a year away from being posted, but is already being eyed by teams such as the Yankees. It is easy to see why as the Orix Buffaloes ace posted a 1.68 ERA and a 0.927 WHiP over his 193 innings, striking out 205 batters with 42 walks. As impressive as those numbers are, his most impressive accomplishment this season may have been allowing just six homers all year as he did a tremendous job of keeping the yard.
He also matched another legend with his back-to-back MVP awards in the Pacific League. The last player to do so was the immortal Ichiro Suzuki, who captured the award for three consecutive years from 1994 through 1996. As he is just 24 years old, Yamamoto may be able to match the legendary Ichiro there as well.
Munetaka Murikami and Yoshinobu Yamamoto both earned their second consecutive MVP awards. Maybe they can get three in a row next year.