We’re still in the midst of the playoffs, but the regular season is in the books. There were a number of great individual performances this year, and if NPB asked me, these would be my picks for the post-season awards.
CL MVP: Kazuhiro Wada (OF, Chunichi)
Apologies to Alex Ramirez, Norichika Aoki and Matt Murton. This one was closer than I would have predicted. It’s a battle counted stats versus rate stats, with Ramirez having the league lead in home runs and rbis, and Wada leading in slugging and on-base percentages. At the end of the day, Wada hit with just as much power as Ramirez, made fewer outs and was the key bat on the League-winning team.
PL MVP: Tsuyoshi Nishioka (SS, Chiba Lotte)
Apologies to Hitoshi Tamura, Alex Cabrera. For me this one was a lot easier to pick. Nishioka lead his league in hits, batting average and runs, and plays a premium defensive position. A-Cab had another great year but was missed too many games with injury problems. And this is lame, but Tamura just doesn’t “feel” like an MVP to me, though he had a strong season all around.
CL RoY: Hisayoshi Chono (OF, Yomiuri)
Apologies to no one. I’ll have to eat my words here: I thought Chono was overrated coming in to the season but he was clearly part of Yomiuri’s best lineup. Chono was a great pickup for the Giants as Yoshitomo Tani started to show his age, Yoshiyuki Kamei is looking like a one-year wonder, and Yoshinobu Takahashi missed half the season.
PL RoY: Keisuke Kattoh (RP, Softbank)
Apologies to Takashi Ogino. I would have gone with Ogino if he had gotten healthy, but Kattoh had a good season with a 2.96 era and 74 strikeouts in 76 innings pitched. Softbank has a knack for developing relievers.
Sawamura Award: Kenta Maeda
Apologies to Yu Darvish, Chihiro Kaneko. If this was the “best pitcher” award, I would go with Darvish, who was phenomenal yet again in 2010. But this is the Sawamura Award, with its seven criteria. Maeda and Darvish each miss on one criteria, Maeda on complete games and Darvish on wins. Maeda has more wins, starts, innings pitched, and a better winning percentage, while Darvish has the edge on strikeouts, complete games and era. So I’ll give it to Maeda on a split decision, even though Darvish had the edge on dominance.
|Position||Central League||Pacific League|
|P||Kenta Maeda||Yu Darvish|
|C||Shinosuke Abe||Motohiro Shima|
|1B||Craig Brazell||Alex Cabrera|
|2B||Keiichi Hirano||Tadahito Iguchi|
|3B||Masahiko Morino||Eichi Koyano|
|SS||Hayato Sakamoto||Tsuyoshi Nishioka|
|OF||Norichika Aoki||Hitoshi Tamura|
|OF||Kazuhiro Wada||Yoshio Itoi|
Apologies to: Kenji Johjima (CL C), Alex Ramirez (CL OF), Michihiro Ogasawara (CL 1B/3B), Chihiro Kaneko (PL P), Kensuke Tanaka (PL 2B), Munenori Kawasaki (PL SS), Toshiaki Imae (PL 3B), Hiroyuki Nakajima (PL SS).
- CL catcher: My gut was Johjima all the way, but Abe was better at the plate and made fewer errors behind it.
- CL OF: it was really, really tough leaving one of Murton, Aoki, Wada and Ramirez off. In the end I went with Ramirez, because Murton set a new hits record, Aoki had the best year of his career, and Wada edges out Ramirez in terms of contribution.
- PL 3B: Koyano and Imae both had great seasons, Koyano was just that much better in the final stats.
- PL SS: This was actually an easy choice, which says more about Nishioka’s season than Kawasaki’s and Nakajima’s.
- PL 2B: Tanaka had an eye-catching batting average, but Iguchi got on base more, hit with more power and made fewer errors.
- And finally, it was tough leaving Ogasawara off, but Brazell was the more productive 1B, and I don’t think he played enough to count at 3B.