Though he’s not quite a household name in the U.S., Minnesota Twins pro baseball pitcher Kenta Maeda has become a bonafide superstar in his home country of Japan, where his decorated career has earned him five All-Star berths. Known among Asian fans as “MaeKen,” the Osaka native regularly shows up on Japanese TV during the off-season — whether he’s providing commentary for the reality show “Terrace House,” hitting a game show homer or discussing the topic of bad art on a talk show.
Speaking of art, Maeda’s hand-drawn renderings are printed on T-shirts, caps and sweatshirts that often sell out of his online merchandise store; and he even has his own YouTube channel, where 339,000-plus subscribers watch him play baseball-themed video games and discuss his pregame routine.
Stateside, where he requires a translator, the former Dodgers pitcher remains relatively unknown if not “a little underrated,” according to the Twins’ president of baseball operations Derek Falvey, who refers to Maeda as “one of the best pitchers in the game.” But that could change when more folks here get a load of his trademark “MaeKen Taisou” move — which has been described as a “fairly bizarre-looking stretch where he windmills his semi-bent arms around as if he were repeatedly banging a drum.” Or perhaps people will start running into him around his off-season L.A. home base, where he and his wife Saho recently doled out $7.4 million for a Cape Cod-style residence sporting six bedrooms and nine bathrooms in nearly 7,000 square feet of living space.
Nestled on a quiet, tree-lined street in Santa Monica near the Brentwood Country Mart, the charmingly blue-shingled home offers contemporary, indoor-outdoor living spaces accented by wide-plank blonde oak floors, coffered tongue-and-groove ceilings and extensive paneling throughout its three levels.