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NPB legend Harimoto issues challenge to Swallows’ Yamada

Kyodo

Hall of Famer Isao Harimoto said Friday that Central League MVP Tetsuto Yamada has only scratched the surface of his potential.

Last season, the Tokyo Yakult Swallows second baseman achieved what is known in Japan as the “Triple Three” — a batting average of .300-plus at least 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases. Yamada led both leagues with 38 homers, tied for the Japan lead with 34 steals and was runner-up for the CL lead in batting average with a .329 mark.

Harimoto, whose 3,085 hits are the most by any player in Nippon Professional Baseball, said Yamada should aspire for a “Triple Four.”

“Aim at reaching four, four, four,” Harimoto told the 23-year-old during a visit to the CL champions’ spring training facility.

“Batting .400 will be difficult, but 40 home homers and 40 steals are definitely doable, that’s because home runs are a function of patience and concentration,” said Harimoto.

The Hall of Famer, who played from 1959 to 1981, won seven batting titles and once stole 41 bases, but never led his league in home runs or hit more than 34 in a season.

The record for the highest batting average in a season is .389, set by Randy Bass with the Hanshin Tigers in 1986.