Wladimir Balentien, the impeccably named, once-heralded Mariners prospect who hit just .221 in three seasons in the majors before retreating to Japan, is smacking the everloving shit out of baseballs right now. Friday he hit his 52nd home run—three shy of the Nippon Professional Baseball record—and he's now carrying a line of .341/.468/.827/1.295 for the Yakult Swallows.
Balentien isn't just the best hitter in Japanese baseball, though, he's an outlandish statistical outlier with a slugging percentage that's 4.6 standard deviations over the league average. To visualize how crazy this is, let's compare Wladimir's year to the 11 most dominant slugging seasons in MLB history. The charts below show the distribution of qualified batters in terms of standard deviations from the slugging mean, with the outliers, all at least four standard deviations away, on the far right:
Wladimir's monster season is topped only by the untouchable Babe Ruth, and Barry Bonds at the peak of his steroid glory. If there was a better baseball league for Babe Ruth to play in, he certainly would have had a chance to make the move. Can Balentien, who's only 29 but under contract with the Swallows for two more years, get another shot at the majors? Who knows, but if he does, he's probably going to kill some damn baseballs.