Yankees slugger Aaron Judge is not the only player to make a run at single-season home run history in 2022. Monday in Japan, Munetaka Murakami of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows swatted his 56th home run of the season, breaking Sadaharu Oh's longstanding record for a Japanese-born player. The first-place Swallows played their final regular season game Monday.
Here is Murakami's milestone homer:
Murakami had gone 13 games and 61 at-bats without a home run after. The 22-year-old third baseman finishes the season, his fourth full season with the Swallows, with a .317/.457/.706 batting line and those 56 homers. The power did not come out of nowhere -- Murakami hit 36, 28, and 39 home runs from 2019-21.
Former Mariners and Reds outfielder Wladimir Balentien holds the single-season record in Japan's Nippon Pro Baseball with 60 home runs with the Swallows in 2013. Here is NPB's all-time single-season home run leaderboard:
- Wladimir Balentien, 2013 Tokyo Yakult Swallows: 60
- Munetaka Murakami, 2022 Tokyo Yakult Swallows: 56
- Sadaharu Oh, 1964 Yomiuri Giants: 55
- Tuffy Rhodes, 2001 Kintetsu Buffaloes: 55
- Alex Cabrera, 2002 Seibu Lions: 55
Will Murakami ever play in the United States? As we noted in August: "For those wondering, it's unclear if Murakami harbors any aspirations of playing in America someday. It is worth noting that MLB's rules governing international free agents would restrict him from earning his market value (he's younger than 25 years old and he has fewer than six years of professional experience), suggesting he wouldn't be a candidate to come over anytime soon regardless of his intent."