TOKYO – Another foreign player is challenging Sadaharu Oh's single-season home run record in Japan and may get a fair chance to break it this time.
With 30 games left in the season, Wladimir Balentien of the Yakult Swallows has 52 homers, just three shy of the record set by Oh in 1964.
Former major leaguers Tuffy Rhodes and Alex Cabrera matched the record in 2001 and 2002, respectively, but saw an increase in walks as they attempted to break it.
Randy Bass hit 54 homers in 1985, but fell short when the pitcher from the Yomiuri Giants, then managed by Oh, threw nothing but balls, preventing Bass from tying the record.
Balentien, from Curacao, said he expects a different approach from pitchers as he nears the record.