Roki Sasaki leads pro baseball in strikeouts

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Chances are, you could imagine Shane McClanahan leading all professional pitchers in strikeouts. The Tampa Bay Rays hurler hit 74 hitters en route to Wednesday as he finds himself in the midst of a breakout campaign. He appears to be on track for his first All-Star Game and can be considered an early frontrunner for the AL Cy Young Award.

However, he is not the professional leader in strikeouts. Instead, that title belongs to Chiba Lotte Marines standout Roki Sasaki, who has continued to carve up the opposition in Nippon Professional Baseball.

Roki Sasaki makes himself the best pitcher in the world

McClanahan has put together an excellent season for the Rays. He has posted an excellent 2.06 ERA and .879 WHiP in his 52.1 innings, and has beaten 74 batters with just 12 walks. The 25-year-old looks set to be the next ace for the Rays, another piece on their pitching assembly line.

Sasaki was even better. He exploded on the map with his perfect play earlier in the year and had another eight perfect innings on his next game. Sasaki was far more than just those two games, however, as he posted a 1.47 ERA and a .673 WHiP in his 55 innings and defeated an incredible 87 batters in just eight walks.

Obviously there are differences. While NPB has become a place for players to revitalize their careers and a breeding ground for prospects, it’s seen as the equivalent of Quad-A, just a notch below the majors. This difference in talent might cause some to ignore Sasaki’s accomplishments.

That’s a disservice to the pitcher he’s become. Sasaki has a high-octane fastball that’s among the best in the world, while his sliver and breaking pitches have reached new levels this season. He had already attracted the attention of major league scouts in high school and would be in great demand the second he became available to the majors. This demand will only increase if he continues to dominate.

Shane McClanahan may lead the majors in strikeouts, but he’s still a long way behind Roki Sasaki. The Japanese star is the professional strikeout leader.

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