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Wladimir Balentien is close to breaking Japan's home run record

By Mike Axisa | Baseball Writer

Wladimir Balentien, who played for the Netherlands in the WBC, may break Japan's home run record.
Wladimir Balentien, who played for the Netherlands in the WBC, may break Japan's home run record. (USATSI)

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Before the 2008 season, Baseball America ranked outfielder Wladimir Balentien the fifth-best prospect in the Mariners organization, writing that "[few] players in the game can match Balentien's immense raw power to all fields." Now, more than five years later, the 29-year-old is on pace to break the single-season home run record ... in Japan.

Three players hold the current record with 55 dingers: Alex Cabrera (2002), Tuffy Rhodes (2001) and Sadaharu Oh (1964). Cabrera played 31 games with the 2000 Diamondbacks, as you might remember. Probably not, though.

Anyway, Balentien comes into Tuesday with a ridiculous .335/.458/.808 batting line in 97 games for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows. He hit .211/.281/.374 (74 OPS+) with 15 homers in 170 career big-league games with the Mariners and Reds. Six home runs in 33 games to break the record seems very, very doable.

Former Nationals utility man Tony Blanco is second in the league with 33 homers, in case you were wondering what Tony Blanco is up to.

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