Six Rays staffers, including Kevin Cash and Erik Neander, slipped away from the Winter Meetings in San Diego in 2019 to drive to Los Angeles and meet with Yoshi in person following an introductory phone call…the Rays presented a 20-page information guide on the team and Tampa Bay area in an effort to elevate his interest in signing…the group met at a facility owned by Nolan Arenado, who shared the same agent...Yoshi became the fourth Japanese-born player in Rays history, following Hideo Nomo (2005), Akinori Iwamura (2007-09) and Hideki Matsui (2012)…Iwamura is the only other Japanese-born player to begin his major league career with the Rays—he signed a three-year contract after playing with the Tokyo Yakult Swallows...Yoshi spent 10 seasons with the Yokohama DeNA BayStars in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball Organization…following his signing with the Rays, Yokohama shared a 2-minute, 25-second farewell video on social media saying, “a samurai from Yokohama is making the move to Tampa Bay”…the number five in Kanji is pronounced ‘go,’ meaning the length of the video could be read as “two-two-go.”...During his at-bats, Yoshi’s home crowd would extend their arms and chant: “Up high into the sky of Yokohama, hit a home run, Tsutsugo!”...Yoshi wore No. 25 for seven of his 10 seasons in NPB…the number was bestowed to him by former teammate and fellow NPB star Shuichi Murata…the gesture is seen as a great honor...He was named Yokohama’s youngest team captain in franchise history in 2015...He has a fraternal twin sister who he says “looks nothing like me”…her talents favor tennis...Yoshi picked up “some broken Spanish” during his time playing for the Leones del Escogido in the Dominican Winter League…he says it is his hidden talent.
Appeared in 51 games and made 42 starts (19-DH,12-LF, 11-3B) in his first major league season…led the team and ranked 2nd among major league rookies with 26 BB behind SEA Kyle Lewis (34)…tied for 3rd among rookies with 27 runs and tied for 4th with 8 HR...Hit leadoff seven times, all in his last 10 games...Had a higher avg. against lefties (.243) than righties (.183), but 35 of his 42 starts came vs. RHP...On Opening Day vs. TOR, homered off Hyun Jin Ryu in the 5th inning, his first career hit… became the sixth Japanese-born player to homer in his major league debut, joining LAD Kenta Maeda in 2016, CHC Kosuke Fukudome in 2008, SEA Kenji Johjima in 2006, NYM Kazuo Matsui in 2004 and STL Keith McDonald in 2000…he was the first Japanese-born player to homer on Opening Day since MIL Nori Aoki in 2013 and first in the AL since NYY Hideki Matsui in 2010...Was the 24th player to homer in his Rays debut, first since Willy Adames in 2018…became the sixth Ray to homer in his major league debut, joining Adames, Brandon Guyer in 2011, Elijah Dukes in 2007, Delmon Young in 2006 and Brent Abernathy in 2001...On Aug 1 at BAL, flied into a double play to lead off the 10th inning—the first leadoff double play in MLB history, according to Elias Sports Bureau.
POSTSEASON: Hit .125 (2-for-16) in 8 games (3 starts)…made his postseason debut in a Game 1 start in the Wild Card Series vs. TOR, going 0-for-2…also started Game 3 of the ALDS at NYY and Game 4 of the ALCS at HOU.
Over the 2016-19 seasons, he led NPB with 139 HR and ranked 3rd with 372 RBI…hit .293/ .401/.574 (566-for-1,931) over that stretch… he made the Central League All-Star Team in five consecutive years from 2015-19.
Led the Central League and tied Hotaka Yamakawa of the Pacific League's Saitama Seibu Lions for the NPB lead with 72 XBH…ranked among NPB leaders in doubles (33, 7th), home runs (38, tied for 4th), RBI (89, tied for 12th), walks (80, 9th) and slugging pct. (.596, 5th)...Received one third-place vote in the Central League Most Valuable Player balloting...Homered in Game 1 of the NPB All-Star Game… his 2-run homer tied the game in the 3rd inning...Played in the Nichi-Bei Series, which is also known as the Japan All-Star Series…is a best-of format between MLB and NPB players.
Began the season playing in the World Baseball Classic and ended it playing in the Japan Series, which is a best-of-seven series between the champions of the Central League and Pacific League...Was a Best Nine selection as an outfielder…it is determined by journalists and presented annually to the best player at each position in both the Central League and Pacific League...Led NPB with 93 BB…ranked 4th with a .909 OPS, 5th with a .396 OBP and 94 RBI, 7th with 59 XBH and a .513 SLG and 9th with 28 HR...Hit .250/.400/.500 (5-for-20) with 2 2B, 1 HR and 3 RBI in the Japan Series but the BayStars lost to the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in 6 games…the homer was a go-ahead shot in Game 5...Homered off Yusei Kikuchi in Game 1 of the NPB All-Star Game and became the third player with a RBI in five consecutive All-Star Games, joining Hideki Matsui and Takeshi Yamasaki...Hit .320/.433/.680 (8-for-25) with 3 HR and 8 RBI in 7 games...Earned Pool B Most Valuable Player honors… helped Japan win each of its three first-round games…homered in the first 2 games, off Jonder Martínez of Cuba and Jon Kennedy of Australia...Homered off Dylan Axelrod in Japan's second-round game against Israel.
Led NPB with 44 HR and tied Sho Nakata of the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters for the NPB lead with 110 RBI…also ranked among NPB leaders in avg. (.322, 4th), on-base pct. (.430, 3rd), slugging pct. (.680, 1st) and OPS (1.110, 1st)...Finished 5th in the Central League Most Valuable Player balloting...Was a Best Nine selection as an outfielder...Entered the NPB record books on July 22, 2016, becoming the first player in league history with three consecutive multi-HR games...On Aug 5 vs. Chunichi, became the youngest player in team history to reach 100 HR...Named Most Valuable Player of Game 1 of the NPB All-Star Game…doubled and homered in the Central League's 5-4 win…was the youngest NPB All-Star Game MVP in team history...Went 2-for-3 with a homer in Game 2 but Most Valuable Player honors were claimed by the Pacific League's Shohei Ohtani.
Ranked among NPB's Top 10 in runs, hits, RBI, walks, avg., on-base pct. and slugging pct. and just missed it in home runs (24, 11th)...Was a Best Nine selection as an outfielder for the first time in his career.
Enjoyed a breakout season, taking over left field duties from veteran Hitoshi Tamura… his 22 HR tied for 13th in NPB but tied for 6th in the Central League and ranked 3rd among Japanese natives…ranked 6th in NPB with a .529 SLG and 7th with a .902 OPS...Was a late addition for the Nichi-Bei Series, replacing the injured Akira Nakamura…the Series was reinstated after an eight-year hiatus.