Tuesday, November 08, 2005

2005 Japan Baseball Awards

GG's were announced today, so I figured I might as well compile all the awards here in English.

Pacific League Awards
Central League Awards

Golden Gloves

Japanese Golden Gloves Awarded

This article made me laugh out loud -- if you can't read Japanese, the headline says "Lotte's strong infield monopolizes; Yomiuri Giants get zero"

(there is an article on Japanball about it here but it doesn't have the lists per se, nor does it even mention everyone)

Central League Pacific League
(1) Hiroki Kuroda (HC) P (6) Daisuke Matsuzaka (SL)
(2) Akihiro Yano (HT) C (7) Kenji Johjima (FSH)
(1) Andy Sheets (HT) 1B (2) Kazuya Fukuura (CLM)
(2) Masahiro Araki (CD) 2B (1) Tsuyoshi Nishioka (CLM)
(5) Akinori Iwamura (YS) 3B (1) Toshiaki Imae (CLM)
(2) Hirokazu Ibata (CD) SS (4) Makoto Kosaka (CLM)
(3) Kosuke Fukudome (CD) OF (9) Tsuyoshi Shinjo (NHF)
(4) Norihiro Akahoshi (HT) OF (1) Saburo Ohmura (CLM)
(1) Tatsuhiko Kinjou (YBS) OF (3) Naoyuki Ohmura (FSH)

The number in parentheses is the total number of times the player has won a golden glove; the teams are the letters in parens and I've put the positions in the middle, just as in the article. I didn't bother copying over the number of votes they got.

I think the most bizarre part here is that they list Saburo as "Saburo" in katakana, but they actually give Shinjo's full name in kanji. Infact, it's been so long since I actually saw his name in kanji that I did a double-take like "An outfielder on the Fighters... Shin-something... OH, GEEZ."

Anyway, the Japanese media is even stupider and more biased towards "popular players" than the American media in voting for these, but I'm relatively happy with their choices. Just a shame Imae had to take precedence over Ogasawara at third, really.

Best Nine

The really bizarre thing here is that Nishioka made the Best Nine as a shortstop but got a golden glove as a second baseman. Huh?

Central League Pacific League
(1) Hiroki Kuroda (HC) P (1) Toshiya Sugiuchi (FSH)
(2) Akihiro Yano (HT) C (6) Kenji Johjima (FSH)
(1) Takahiro Arai (HC) 1B (1) Julio Zuleta (FSH)
(2) Masahiro Araki (CD) 2B (1) Yuuichi Hori (CLM)
(*) Makoto Imaoka (HT) 3B (1) Toshiaki Imae (CLM)
(3) Hirokazu Ibata (CD) SS (1) Tsuyoshi Nishioka (CLM)
(5) Tomoaki Kanemoto (HT) OF (*) Kazuhiro Wada (SL)
(1) Norichika Aoki (YS) OF (1) Katsuhiko Miyaji (FSH)
(2) Norihiro Akahoshi (HT) OF (1) Matt Franco (CLM)
DH (*) Nobuhiko Matsunaka (FSH)

* -- Imaoka won twice as a second baseman but this is his first at 3B, Wada won as a DH once but this is his third consecutive in the outfield, and Matsunaka won three times as a 1B but this is his first as a DH.

Central League and Pacific League MVP

Tomoaki Kanemoto named CL MVP, Toshiya Sugiuchi named PL MVP

(not directly translated -- it says something more like "old dude Kanemoto wins CL MVP, and PL is Sugiuchi". Maybe I should start calling the 37-year-old Kanemoto "Old Man Tiger" instead of Shimoyanagi)

Despite how much Kanemoto sucked it up in the Japan Series -- and now that it's over, I can honestly feel sorry for him -- he did put together a pretty solid year which pretty much led the Tigers to the pennant, batting .327/.429/.615 with 40 HR and 125 RBI.

Sugiuchi's a pretty good choice for PL MVP -- I was pretty sure it'd go to either him or to Nobuhiko Matsunaka and his 46 homers, and it was a pretty close race between the two of them. I'll talk more about him in a second, anyway.

Sawamura Award

The Sawamura Award is the Japanese equivalent of the Cy Young award, named for Eiji Sawamura, a legendary Japanese pitcher who died in World War II. They award it to the best starting pitcher in the NPB every year.

This year it was given unanimously to aforementioned PL MVP Toshiya Sugiuchi, who was 18-4 with a 2.11 ERA with 218 strikeouts. He led the Pacific League in wins (Nishiguchi was next with 17), ERA (Shunsuke Watanabe was next with 2.17), and was second in strikeouts (to Daisuke Matsuzaka's 226).

All in all there was some very strong pitching in the PL this year, really -- 6 starters logged ERAs under 3, whereas only one starter in the CL, Yokohama's Miura, logged an ERA under 3. Why is this weird? The Pacific League uses a DH, and the Central League does not. You would expect the lower ERAs to be in the CL, where they get a couple of free outs every now and then, not the PL -- as was the case in MLB this year, where of the 9 starters to log ERAs below 3, 2 were in the DH-using AL, and 7 were in the NL.

Shoriki Award

Listed under Special Awards is the Masutaro Shoriki award, which is given to people who make the largest contributions to Japanese baseball. Unsurprisingly, Bobby Valentine won it this year.

Rookie of the Year

The Central League ROY award went to Yakult Swallows leadoff hitter Norichika Aoki, who became the second player in Japanese baseball history to record 200 hits in a season (Ichiro was the first, of course), and Marines right-hander Yasutomu Kubo, who was 10-3 with a 3.40 ERA, with 26 walks and 84 strikeouts in 121 innings pitched. Strangely, there weren't even any people remotely close for second place in either voting.

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