[JAPAN SPORTS NOTEBOOK] Munetaka Murakami and Yoshinobu Yamamoto named NPB MVPs



Innovators in Japan are developing new technologies to fight the coronavirus


Tokyo Yakult Swallows bat Munetaka Murakami and Orix Buffaloes ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto played key roles in their flag-winners’ teams in 2021.

Now, a few weeks after the Japan Series concludes, Nippon Professional Baseball has announced its individual Central League and Pacific League winners. National baseball writers’ votes were tabulated and announced on Wednesday, December 15, with Murakami receiving the CL MVP award and Yamamoto receiving the PL MVP award.

Murakami, the 21-year-old starting third baseman of the Swallows’ Japan Series winners, became the youngest Central League MVP winner.

The Kumamoto native led the NPB with 39 home runs, 283 total bases, and a slugging percentage of 0.566 during the regular season. He had 27 doubles, 112 RBIs, 82 runs and 106 walks, and hit .278 while appearing in all 143 games.

Murakami received 287 of 306 votes for the CL MVP Award.

Teammate Tetsuto Yamada, who buckled up 34 homers and hit 101 runs, received the most votes for second place (98).

Other Swallows players get votes in first, second or third place: relievers Ryuto Kono and Noboru Shimizu, closer Scott McGough, starting pitcher Yasunobu Okugawa and catcher Yuhei Nakamura.

Yamamoto, 23, led NPB in wins (18), shutouts (four), strikeouts (206) and ERA (1.39) in 193â…” innings. The right-handed went 18-5, allowing only seven homers and 40 walks.

The Buffaloes hurler received 283 out of 286 PL MVP votes. Teammate Yutaro Sugimoto, who scored 0.301 with 32 homers and 83 RBIs, got two first places and 120 votes for second place.

The other first place went to Orix pitcher Hiroya Miyagi. The 20-year-old from Okinawa went 13-4 in 23 starts and put on 147 innings in his first full NPB campaign. He went 39 and fanned 131. Miyagi was named PL Rookie of the Year. Hiroshima Carp Reliever Ryoji Kuribayashi, who scored 0-1 in 52â…“ innings with 37 saves, 81 strikeouts and a 0.86 ERA, received the PF Rookie of the Year award.

Buffaloe’s outfielder Masataka Yoshida, who led the PL with an average of 0.339, received 107 MVP votes for second place.

Hawks and Galvis sign a two-year contract

After a decade for MLB teams, infielder Freddy Galvis comes to Japan.

Galvis has signed a two-year deal for the Pacific League’s Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, the team announced on Thursday, December 16.

The 32-year-old infielder has played shortstop as a fielder in 883 of his 1,086 MLB games, most of his other appearances on second base or third base.

The Venezuelan split last season and played for the Philadelphia Phillies and Baltimore Orioles. He started the year with the Orioles and was traded on July 30th for the Phillies, the team he started his MLB career with.

He has averaged .246 strokes in 1,102 games in the majors, including appearances with the San Diego Padres, Toronto Blue Jays and Cincinnati Reds.

The Hawks did not announce the final terms of Galvis’ contract, but published reports say it could be as high as JPY 700 million (around $ 6 million).

“I am so grateful and happy to be part of such a wonderful franchise,” said Galvis in a statement released by the team. “I can’t wait to play with my teammates to bring the fans and the city another championship.”


Watanabe scores first double-double in NBA career

Toronto Raptors small forward Yuta Watanabe recorded the first double-double of his NBA career on Monday, December 13th.

In the 124-101 defeat of the Raptors against the Sacramento Kings, he had 12 points and the best 10 rebounds of the NBA career in 26 minutes.

Watanabe was on the court for the last 16 minutes of the game.

“I’m not going to lie, I ended up being gassed,” Watanabe said aloud The Canadian press. “That’s how it should be. Every time I come on the pitch, I work hard, I bring energy with me. After every game I should be gassed.”

The fourth-year professional, who sidelined earlier this season with a calf injury, has now played in nine Raptors games. Watanabe averages 6.1 points, 4.0 assists, 1.2 assists, 0.7 blocks and 19.2 minutes. He made his season debut on November 24th. Toronto opened its season on October 20th.

Allen Hachimura signs with Crane Thunders

Allen Hachimura, the younger brother of NBA player Rui, has joined the Gunma Crane Thunders, the B. League team announced on Friday, December 17th.

Hachimura is a 198cm power forward and played 10 games for Sunrockers Shibuya in the 2020/21 season of the B. League. He averaged 1.7 points and 1.4 rebounds.

Hachimura, who, like his older brother, attended Meisei High School, made his professional debut last season as a designated third year player, a program that allows players under the age of 22 (as of March 31 in the season calendar) to compete the B-League.

CONNECTED: BASKETBALL | Tom Wisman develops winning strategies for Gunma Crane Thunders


Ioka wins a new opponent to defend his title

WBO super flyweight world champion Kazuto Ioka will face substitute challenger Ryoji Fukunaga on New Year’s Eve, organizers announced on December 16.

Originally, Ioka was slated to face Filipino Jerwin Ancajas, but Japan’s current ban on foreign travelers put the fight on hold before Fukunaga, the WBO’s sixth-placed super flyweight, faced Ioka at Ota City General High School.

Ancajas, the IBF Champion, becomes No. 4 in the weight class of The ring Magazine.

The 32-year-old Ioka is 27-12 (15 KO’s). Fukunaga, 35, is 15-4 (14 KOs).

“It is regrettable not to be able to hold the unification fight on New Year’s Eve. But now that this is decided, I want to win and build on that for my next fight, ”Ioka said in a statement.

horse race

Kimura catches Woodbine jockey title

The 2021 racing season ended last week at the Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, with Hokkaido-born Kazushi Kimura ending his most successful season to date.

Kimura won the Woodbine Jockey title for the first time and ended the year with 138 wins and a profit of $ 6,360,203 (approximately $ 5 million or JPY 564.6 million).

The 22-year-old’s perseverance and hard work paid off.

Kimura made her debut at Woodbine in 2018 as an apprentice jockey.

“That is a special achievement and one of my dreams,” said Kimura after his last race of the year on December 5th of his season title.

“Everyone wants to be a leader, but it’s not easy. We only need great riding skills and good horses, good support from the trainers and owners for the whole season to be able to win the title.

“This year I would say that I have improved and have had good support from coaches and owners. I appreciate this help, which helped me to get the riding title. “

CONNECTED: HORSE RACING | The youthful jockey Kazushi Kimura has high goals for the start of the season in Toronto


Furue, Shibuno qualify for the LPGA Tour in 2022

Ayaka Furue and Hinako Shibuno have participated in the LPGA Q-Series for the past two weeks, trying to get their places on the tour as rookies in 2022.

Both aspiring golfers have earned spots on the US pro golf course. Most of the LPGA Tour events take place in the United States.

Furue finished the eight-round event that ended December 12th with an 18-under 556 in eighth place. The 21-year-old, who had seven career wins on the LPGA of Japan Tour, had below-average overall scores in all eight rounds.

Shibuno shot a 10 under 564 and tied for 20th place overall. The Smiling Cinderella shot a 7-over 79 in the seventh round in Dothan, Alabama, and then finished strong by carding a 3-under 69 in the final round. Shibuno, who also plays mainly in Japan, won the Women’s British Open in 2019.

The LPGA Q-Series opened week in Mobile, Alabama.

Ice stock sport

Japan women qualify for the Beijing Olympics

After winning a bronze medal at the 2018 Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, Japan’s national women’s curling team has secured a place for next year’s tournament at the Beijing Games.

The Japanese contingent, represented by the national championship club Loco Solare from Hokkaido, defeated South Korea in Leeuwarden, Netherlands, in the playoffs 8-5 in the final qualifying event for a place at the 2022 Olympic Games.

As a result, Japan maintained its streak of success in qualifying for every women’s Olympic curling tournament since the 1998 Nagano Games.

“We left Pyeongchang with the frustration of having watched the final from the stands,” said Yurika Yoshida from Loco Solare Kyodo news after the game against South Korea. “I want to have an Olympics that I won’t regret.”

Quotes of the week

“I want to publish convincing numbers that impress everyone. I will strive for a goal [Japan Series] only win and I want to throw our manager in the air. “

ー Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks outfielder Yuki Yanagita told reporters on Dec. 17 after receiving a raise to give him a salary of JPY 620 million ($ 5.46 million) for the 2022 NPB season. Yanagita’s 10 million yen raise makes him the highest-paid position player in NPB history. Former Yomiuri Giants superstar Hideki Matsui earned 610 million yen in 2002.

“The competition for good players in the world market is sure to get tougher and I think the rugby environment and the compensation are very important to keep us attractive to non-Japanese players.”

ー League One Chief Operation Officer Hajimi Shojicommented in an interview with The Associated Press this week on the new professional league of Japanese rugby, due to begin its inaugural season on January 7th.

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Author: Ed Odeven

Follow Ed on JAPAN Forwards [Japan Sports Notebook] here sundays, in [Odds and Evens] here during the week and twitter ed_odeven.


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