2019 CRCBL Pitcher of the Year -- Chase Lee
Date: Aug 13, 2019
By Matt Cohen
Kobe Kato doesn’t look at his stats. He thinks it’s bad luck.
A Hawaii native, Kato hadn’t been as far east in the United States as Bethesda. He hadn’t been to the east coast before traveling with his Arizona team to play Penn State.
As he adjusted to living just outside of a big city, Kato got off to a hot start on the field with the Big Train. Kato’s numbers were inflated at first with so few at bats, but the numbers never dipped.
“I knew in my head if I could keep putting in good at bats and I keep working hard at the plate, things would go my way,” Kato said.
Things went his way – a lot.
Kato was named the Cal Ripken League Offensive Player of the Year after a record-breaking summer at the core of the 2019 champion Bethesda Big Train batting order.
His .441 batting average broke the previous record of .433. His .612 on base percentage beat the previous record of .552 and his 48 walks pushed away the previous record of 36.
Kato didn’t know what the batting average record was during the season, and he wasn’t focused on breaking it.
“Sometimes it crossed my mind but then I tried to wipe it away really quickly,” Kato said of the batting average record. “I knew I was doing good but let’s not stop here. Let’s keep pushing and try to do better.”
Kato set the table reliably and reached base at a rate the Ripken League hasn’t seen before.
With Arizona this spring, Kato hit just .240. He had never had a streak of success in his life like he did with the Big Train.
What he proved to himself about his ability, even as he credits some success to lucky balls dropping in, gives Kato confidence as he heads back to Arizona for his sophomore season. He’s had success now at a collegiate level heading into a year where he will likely see a larger role.
He was the most prolific hitter in the CRCBL’s most prolific lineup. He was the CRCBL’s most outstanding offensive player.