Asian Major League Baseball players have made an indelible mark on the game over the past generation. Bringing their accomplished skills and grace to the highest level, new stars from the East are seemingly born every year.
Their presence sprung from a base of zero representation two decades ago. Since then a constant wave of Asian players have added their unique flavor to America’s baseball diamonds.
Primarily from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, Asians still only account for a tiny minority of MLB players. Despite this fact, there seems to be a disproportionate number who excel in the majors.
After success in their home countries, many Asian imports arrive in America boasting mighty reputations. Bidding wars between MLB teams, followed by the inking of multimillion-dollar contracts, often set the bar of expectation sky-high.
Not all of them have prospered in the MLB pressure cooker. Some have shown flashes of their talents but ultimately fallen short of expectations—Daisuke Matsuzaka and Hideki Irabu spring to mind. Others, such as Kei Igawa, have been abject failures.
However, many Asians have thrived in MLB and lived up to their hype. Some have even managed to exceed the lofty expectations.
After years of being treated to their immense talents, it’s time to celebrate their achievements. The following slides will recognize the 10 Asian players who have made the most profound impact on MLB.