TOKYO (Kyodo) – Yoshinobu Yamamoto, 23-year-old ace pitcher for Pacific League winner Orix Buffaloes and the Japanese national team’s Olympic gold medalist, won the Eiji Sawamura Award as Japan’s most impressive starting pitcher for the first time on Monday.
Yamamoto won 18 games with a 1.39 ERA over 193-2 / 3 innings, scoring 206 strikeouts, finishing six games and throwing four shutouts, all leading numbers in the league, while also posting a league-best profit share of 0.783 .
“You can’t even try to compare Yamamoto with other pitchers,” said the chairman of the award committee, former Yomiuri Giants ace Tsuneo Horiuchi.
Yamamoto, a contestant to win the PL Most Valuable Player Award, set a franchise record by winning 15 straight decisions and became only the second PL player to have four pitchers of the month after Masahiro Tanaka in 2013 Episode won.
The jury of former pitchers meets every year on the first day of travel of the Japan Series and makes their selection. The award, sponsored by Yomiuri Shimbun, is named after Eiji Sawamura, the Giants’ first ace.
The committee uses six statistical benchmarks to evaluate the pitcher’s worth: over 25 games started, 10 complete games, over 15 wins, a win rate of over .600, over 200 innings, over 150 strikeouts and an ERA of or 2.50 better.
Yamamoto missed only two goals, for innings pitches and full games, the latter drawing commentary from panelist Choji Murata, former Hall of Fame Lotte ace.
“He didn’t have enough full games,” said Murata. “I understand that pitchers work at the discretion of their managers, so it’s very difficult, but I think he should try to get more. That goes for all pitchers.”