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Top 10 MLB Best Asian Baseball Players 2023 Rankings

Ranking the best MLB Asian baseball players in honor of AAPI Heritage Month as Shohei Ohtani leads the way

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By admin | November 21, 2023

AAPI Heritage Month

The game of baseball continues to grow in popularity all around the world including all around Asia. With this popularity, the game of baseball continues to have tremendous baseball players come up through the ranks both in the United States as well as internationally. As you start to look at the Asia countries, baseball players, whether they Asians, Asian Americans, or Pacific Islanders, continue to build stellar careers playing internationally including within the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) league and the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO). The Top 10 MLB Asian Baseball Players 2023 Rankings is as strong as ever while Shohei Ohtani headlines the group.

The Los Angeles Angels designated hitter and starting pitcher who took home the 2021 AL MVP Award, showcased his talents leading Team Japan to the World Baseball Classic (WBC) championship this year.

Meanwhile on the MLB diamonds, Ohtani has performed strong both at the plate as well as on the mound for the Angels during the 2023 MLB season.

Joining Ohtani on the list of the Top 10 MLB Asian Baseball Players 2023 Rankings list includes Kodai Senga of the New York Mets, Yu Darvish of the San Diego Padres, Masataka Yoshida of the Boston Red Sox, and Seiya Suzuki of the Chicago Cubs. Here is a look at the Top 10 MLB Asian Baseball Players 2023 Rankings list.

Honorable Mention

Shintaro Fujinami

Team: Oakland A’s

Position: Starting Pitcher/Relief Pitcher

Landing just outside of the Top 10 MLB Asian Baseball Players 2023 Rankings list is the former Hanshin Tigers starting pitcher Shintaro Fujinami. Fujinami who played from 2013-2022 within the NPB posted a 57-54 career record while striking out 1,011 batters.

His performance with the NPB landed him a three-year deal prior to the start of the 2023 MLB season with the Oakland A’s. Despite struggling earlier on to start the season, Fujinami has shown promise striking out 29 batters over 27.2 innings of work.

Kolten Wong

Team: Seattle Mariners

Position: Second Baseman

Long time MLB infielder Kolten Wong continues to find his way around the Major League Baseball diamond as he is currently anchoring down second base for the Seattle Mariners.

Wong, who made his Major League Baseball debut during the 2013 MLB season for the St. Louis Cardinals where he spent his first eight seasons of his MLB career before joining the Milwaukee Brewers for the next two seasons.

In 100 at bats during the 2023 MLB season, Wong has three doubles, scored nine runs, and driven in eight runs. Wong has 82 career home runs, 386 runs batted in and 183 doubles over 3,672 career at bats.

Top 10 Asian MLB Players

10. Kenta Maeda

Team: Minnesota Twins

Position: Starting Pitcher

Coming in at number 10 on the Top 10 MLB Asian Baseball Players 2023 Rankings list is the Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Kenta Maeda. Maeda who is returning from missing the entire 2022 MLB season after requiring Tommy John surgery during the 2021 MLB season.

In four starts during the 2023 MLB season, this Japanese Baseball player, has struggled while also dealing with some forearm issues. The former Hiroshima Toyo Carp and Los Angeles Dodgers starter is 0-4 on the year while posting a 9.00 earned run average. Over his career Maeda has posted a 59-45 record to go along with a career 3.98 earned run average and 848 strikeouts.

9. Steven Kwan

Team: Cleveland Guardians

Position: Left Fielder 

After finishing as a finalist for the American League Rookie of the Year Award during the 2022 MLB Season, Steven Kwan of the Cleveland Guardians entered the 2023 MLB season with high expectations.

The Guardians left fielder has been solid to start the season posting a .254 batting average over 189 at bats to start the season while picking up 11 doubles, one triple, one home run, and driving in 14 batters.

During his rookie season Kwan finished the season with a .298 batting average and 168 hits ranking among the tops of all MLB rookies.

8. Connor Joe

Team: Pittsburgh Pirates

Position: Right Fielder 

After spending the better parts of the last two seasons with the Colorado Rockies, Connor Joe was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates during the off season.

The move looks to be a good move as Joe has appeared in 42 games this season with Pirates while logging 132 at bats over that time frame.

The Pirates right fielder has been solid over those at bats posting a .265 batting average to go along with 10 doubles, three triples, and five home runs. In addition to those numbers Joe has scored 24 runs, driven in 15 runs, and stolen two bases while posting an .862 OPS. 

7. Yusei Kikuchi

Team: Toronto Blue Jays

Position: Starting Pitcher 

The 31-year-old starting pitcher who spent his early days playing for the Saitama Seibu Lions of the NPB before joining the Seattle Mariners in 2019, is in his first year of a three-year deal with the Toronto Blue Jays.

In 10 starts during the 2023 MLB season the Blue Jays starter has posted a 5-2 record over 51.1 innings pitched. In those outings Kikuchi has posted a 4.56 earned run average while striking out 48 batters and posting a .714 winning percentage.

During his career in the NPB, Kikuchi was a three-time NPB All-Star while leading the Pacific League in both wins and earned run average.

6. Ha-seong Kim

Team: San Diego Padres

Position: Second Baseman

Another top Asian baseball player just missing the list is the San Diego Padres infielder Ha-seong Kim. Kim, who was posted during the MLB offseason leading into the 2021 MLB season, ranked among the best hitters within the KBO as well as a strong defender winning three KBO League Golden Globe Awards.

The former KBO Golden Glove award winner put together a career .292 batting average with 133 home runs before electing to sign a four-year deal with the Padres before the start of the 2021 MLB season.

Last season after taking over for the injured/suspended Fernando Tatis Jr, Kim saw the most at bats of his MLB career posting 517 over 150 games while hitting 29 doubles, 11 home runs, and driving in 59 runs.

Through 47 games during the 2023 MLB season, Kim is batting .237 with seven doubles, five home runs, and 16 runs batted in over 152 at bats.

5. Seiya Suzuki

Team: Chicago Cubs

Position: Right Fielder

Rounding out the top five on the Top 10 MLB Asian Baseball Players 2023 Rankings list is the Chicago Cubs right fielder and Japanese player Seiya Suzuki.

One MLB Asian baseball player putting together some solid numbers to start the 2023 MLB schedule is the Cubs outfielder Suzuki.

In 35 games this season the Cubs outfielder is hitting .293 over 133 at bats while picking up eight doubles, one triple, six home runs, driving in 19 runs, and posting a .504 slugging percentage mark.

Prior to joining the MLB last season, Suzuki was a Best Nine award winner six times, two-time Central League batting champion, and a five-time NPB All-Star during his playing days within the NPB.

4. Masataka Yoshida

Team: Boston Red Sox

Position: Outfielder

The Boston Red Sox made another international splash during the MLB offseason landing Masataka Yoshida of the Orix Buffaloes. Yoshida who was posted by the Buffaloes was signed to a five-year deal with the Red Sox has gotten off to a solid start during his rookie season. Yoshida currently ranks 14th in all of Major League Baseball while posting a .299 batting average to start the season. In addition to the strong batting average, the Red Sox outfielder has 10 doubles, six home runs, scored 27 runs, and has 29 runs batted in on the year. His play during the first week of May 2023 earned him his first AL Player of the Week Award after batting .480 with 12 hits over 25 total at bats.

3. Yu Darvish

Team: San Diego Padres

Position: Starting Pitcher

One of the most accomplished MLB Asian baseball players over the past 10 to 15 MLB seasons has been the long-time starting pitcher, Yu Darvish.

Darvish won two Pacific League MVP Awards during his time in the NPB before being posted and signing with the Texas Rangers. It is hard to leave Darvish off the list as he continues to be a solid starting pitcher on a San Diego Padres team looking to make a deep postseason run during the 2023 MLB season.

Since joining Major League Baseball in 2012, Darvish has been selected to five MLB All-Star teams, led the AL in strikeouts, and led the NL in wins. In nine starts this season, Darvish is 3-3 with a 3.67 earned run average while striking out 57 hitters over 54 innings of work. 

2. Kodai Senga

Team: New York Mets

Position: Starting Pitcher

One of the most recent players to join Major League Baseball from the NPB is the 30-year-old starting pitcher Kodai Senga. Senga who pitched in the NPB from 2012 to 2022 with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks finished his NPB career with a career 2.59 earned run average with 1,252 strikeouts and an 87-44 record.

His strong performance landed him a five-year $75 million dollar deal this offseason with the New York Mets. In eight starts this season Senga has pitched to a 3.94 earned run average while striking out 61 hitters over 48 innings of work while posting a 4-3 overall record. 

1. Shohei Ohtani

Team: Los Angeles Angels

Position: Starting Pitcher/Designated Hitter

In at number one on the Top 10 Asian Baseball Players 2023 Rankings list is the Los Angeles Angels All Star, MVP, and best Japanese baseball player Shohei Ohtani.

Not only one of the best Asian baseball players, Ohtani also ranks among the best players in Major League Baseball. Ohtani, who continues to do things we have not seen since the likes of Babe Ruth, has been stellar on the mound and at the plate for the Angels during the 2023 MLB season.

On the mound Ohtani is 5-1 with a 3.05 earned run average to go along with 80 strikeouts and a .90 WHIP. At the plate Ohtani is batting .280 with eight doubles, 12 home runs and 33 runs batted in through his first 49 games to start the 2023 MLB schedule.

How would rank these Asian, Asian American, or Pacific Islander players of today? Rank below to be added in the Power Rankings

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