From SABR member Ben Lindbergh at Baseball Prospectus on August 30, 2013:
You might remember Wladimir Balentien from his age 22-24 seasons, when he hit a combined .221/.281/.374 for the Mariners and Reds, or his age-25 season, which he spent with Triple-A Lousville because he was blocked by the barely passable bat of Austin Kearns. Then again, you might not, because your brain has space for only so many baseball players, and Balentien didn’t make much of a case for inclusion.
He’s making a much stronger case today. Now 29, Balentien is having an insane season for the Yakult Swallows in the Japanese Central League, where he’s spent the past two-plus years. He’s hit .339/.463/.826 with 51 homers in 100 games, and with over 30 games to go, he’s a near-lock to break the single-season record of 55 held by Sadaharu Oh, Tuffy Rhodes, and Alex Cabrera, assuming he stays healthy and gets pitches to hit.
Balentien led the league in homers in each of his first two seasons in Japan, but it took much less eye-popping totals—31, both times—to do it. He happened to arrive just in time to experience two extremely anomalous offensive years, thanks to a less lively ball that was introduced in 2011.
Read the full article here: http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=21674
Originally published: August 30, 2013. Last Updated: August 30, 2013.