Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Munenori Kawasaki currently leads the majors in personality, and nothing else. The 31-year-old is batting .235 in this, his second year since jumping to MLB from the Japanese League, while serving as a fill-in for the injured Jose Reyes. Yet to judge him based on his baseball skills—particularly in Toronto, where there's such little emphasis on baseball skills—would be to miss the point entirely. Rather, it's better to form your opinion on Kawasaki based on his reaction to Pablo Sandoval's full arm piece (above), or him telling the Toronto Star, “I’m always serious — Japanese style. I’m serious like a samurai.” Those are just two of the reasons the utility infielder is the most entertaining man in baseball. Here are 16 more.
1. He became a Mariner in 2012 because he demanded it.
After winning the Japan Series title in 2011, Kawasaki expressed his desire in MLB but on his terms: only if he could play in Seattle with his idol and World Baseball Classic teammate Ichiro. "I will accept a minor-league deal but I will refuse offers from other clubs," he said. Kawasaki gets what Kawasaki wants.
2. His famed pre-game stretching ritual.
3. Actually, he stretches any time there's an opportunity.
4. He batted .192/.257/.202 in 115 plate appearances with the Mariners, yet fans were so devoted to him that there was an outcry when he got cut.
They released Kawasaki? I'm done with the Mariners. Trade Felix to Japan or whatever to get him back.
— Ryan (@Camden409) October 24, 2012
WHY MARINERS????? WHY MUST YOU TAKE MY KAWASAKI AWAY????
— Michael Preston (@RM_Preston) October 24, 2012
I'll miss you, Munenori Kawasaki. You will forever be the best male cheerleader-turned-baseball player to ever play the game. #SayonaraMune
— Britton Ransford (@bkransford) October 24, 2012
5. One fan made this tribute video set to "What Makes You Beautiful" by One Direction.
6. Blue Jays fans have also made a video for Kawasaki...
Created by The Citizens United to Yell "Kawasaki!!!!" Super PAC, the purpose of video/Jhonny Peralta attack ad is to support an All-Star write in campaign for Kawasaki at shortstop. The faux-official press release reads in part: "The WAR-mongers has not developed a number for it but it is obvious that no one is more suited to twirling bats, talk to his helmet, do a Lo Viste-Bow, or mount a teammate, than Munenori Kawasaki. And isn’t that what baseball’s founders would have wanted?"
7. He once mounted Casper Wells during an on-field celebration.
8. He honors his teammates with bows, hugs and head pats.
9. This is how he dances in the dugout.
10. He suffers from no language barrier.
Kawasaki hasn't yet mastered the English language but he communicates through laughter, dance and some words. (Make sure the check the bit at 2:04.)
11. He's got his own fan section now at Rogers Centre.
How many utility players can say that?
12. Somehow this is how he landed on the ground after getting hit by a pitch in the ankle.
13. He once visited an injured fan in the stands.
After a foul ball hit her in the face during pre-game batting practice.
14. He sported this mustache for a period last year.
15. His fake steal attempt looked like this.
[mlbvideo id="23648389" width="600" height="336" /]
16. All he wants the fans to do is shout and drink beer.
“The only thing I hope the fans do is just enjoy it and shout, even bad things,” Kawasaki said. “Just release their stress, just drink beer and watch the games. If I was a baseball fan I would just drink beers and shout during the game.”