Wladimir Balentien, NPB’s single-season home run king, retires

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Wladimir Balentien, who set a new Nippon Professional Baseball single-season home run record with 60 home runs in 2013, announced his retirement on Twitter.

Balentien played for Tokyo’s Yakult Swallows and in his 11 seasons in the NPB, including nine with the Swallows, he established himself as one of the top power hitters in Japan. Balentien has played for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks for the past two seasons.

Wladimir Balentien will finish his Nippon Professional Baseball career with 1,001 hits and 301 homers

Announcement of retirement on twitter, Balentien dubbed himself the “hr king,” a title he earned when he surpassed Sadaharu Oh’s record 55 home runs in a single season in 2013.

Balentien played 170 major league baseball games for the Seattle Mariners and Cincinnati Reds between 2007 and 2009, making 559 plate appearances. During the 2008 season with the Mariners, he hit seven of his 15 career MLB home runs, but that year he also only hit .202/.250/.342.

On July 29, 2009, he was traded by the Mariners to Cincinnati for pitcher Robert Manuel. He would play in just 40 games for the Reds before being given a free hand on November 6, 2010 after hiring for Cincinnati’s Triple-A affiliate.

Of Dutch descent, Balentien made his mark on his homeland during the World Baseball Classic. He played for the Netherlands at the 2004 Olympics, as well as the 2013 and 2017 WBC, and amassed a cult-like following after posting some stunning totals and performance in the 2017 version.

He was named an outfielder on the 2017 All-World Baseball Classic team after leading all WBC batters with four homers, 12 RBI, 16 total hits and a WBC lead with Carlos Correa (who plays for Puerto Rico) at 10 achieved runs achieved.

In a 14-1 win over Kuba in Tokyo during the 2017 WBC pool game, Balentien went 3-4 with five RBI to win. His hits that day included two home runs.

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