As if it weren’t bad enough for Seattle fans that players who spend time in the Mariners organization tend to do better once they leave, it apparently applies even more to guys that choose to play overseas.
Many of you will remember Wladimir Balentien from his time with the Mariners. In 511 plate appearances in the majors, not all with Seattle, Balentien hit 15 home runs while hitting for a .221 average.
Having run out of opportunities to play at the MLB level, the outfielder from the Netherlands chose to sign with the Yakult Swallows of the NPB. The NPB is the Japanese professional league and is just as popular there, as the MLB is here, if not more. What no one saw coming was a record-breaking season in 2013.
As of today, Balentien has hit 54 home runs despite missing the first 12 games of the season for the Swallow. The NPB record is 55 and the 29-year old has another 23 games before the end of the regular season. It would seem that the former Mariner has finally found success in Japan given he’s also hitting .340 with a .464 on base percentage. Balentien has put up these numbers having played in only 108 games and 466 plate appearances, meaning he hits just over one home run every other game.
An interesting note, Lastings Milledge, another former MLB player is second on the team in home runs with a whopping 16.