Daiki Watanabe, Yakult
17 G, 25-for-69, 0 HR, 7 RBI, 4 SB, .362 BA
Watanabe led the league in hits (twenty-five) and his batting average (.362) was good for second. He recorded at least one hit in fourteen of the seventeen games he played in.
Xavier Batista, Hiroshima
20 G, 31-for-78, 8 HR, 22 RBI, 1 SB, .397 BA
Batista batted clean-up in all twenty of his team’s games in May. He blasted a home run in three consecutive games and drove in at least one run in five straight games. He led the league in home runs (eight) and RBI (twenty-two).
Source: NPB 6/9/20170 Comments
Takahiro Araki, Yakult (First Time)
May 14 vs Chunichi at Botchan Stadium. Bottom of the ninth with the score tied at one. Bases loaded with two out. Araki hit a walk-off grand slam to left. The Dragons took the early lead with a run in the first inning. The Swallows answered back with a run of their own in the bottom of the second inning. The teams remained locked in a one-all tie until the bottom of the ninth. Chunichi pitchers walked three batters in a row to load the bases and set the stage for Araki’s walk-off grand slam. This was Yakult’s second walk-off grand slam of the season, a first for a team in the Central League.
Shunta Goto, Orix (First Time)
May 7 vs Nippon Ham at Kyocera Dome. Bottom of the 12th with the bases loaded, one out, and the score tied at three. Shunta recorded a walk-off single to right. The Fighters scored first with two runs in the third. The Buffaloes scored a run in the bottom of the inning and two more in the fourth to take a 3-2. Nippon Ham tied the game at three in the sixth. Orix loaded the bases with two hits and a walk in the bottom of the 12th. For Shunta, the deciding hit was his fourth of the game (first four-hit game of his career) and the second walk-off hit of his career. He recorded another walk-off hit on May 31 against Yakult.
Source: NPB 6/8/20170 Comments
Tomoyuki Sugano, Yomiuri (Third Time)
5 G, 3-2, 37.0 IP, 2.68 ERA, 31 SO, 11 ER
Sugano led the league with three victories (tied with two others). The three victories were a shutout, one run over eight innings, and seven shutout innings. He recorded the shutout win on May 2 against Yokohama at Tokyo Dome and became the first pitcher since Masaki Saito in 1989 to string together three shutout victories in a row. He also notched his fiftieth career victory during the win he recorded when he gave up a run over eight innings. Sugano is the first Yomiuri pitcher to record an MVP of the Month since Kazuto Taguchi in July 2016.
Dayan Viciedo, Chunichi (Second Time)
25 G, .341 AVG, 30 H, 8 HR, 25 RBI
Viciedo played in all his team’s games in May and batted .341 (fourth in the league) with eight home runs (third) and twenty-five RBI (first). His seven shukunda’s (hits that drove in the first run of the game, game-tying run, go-ahead run, come-from-behind run) were good for a first place tie. He blasted a walk-off home run against Hiroshima on May 19. Teammate Yohei Oshima won the MVP of the Month last month.
Takahiro Norimoto, Rakuten (Second Time)
4 G, 4-0, 32.0 IP, 2.25 ERA, 1 CG, 1 ShO, 46 SO, 8 ER
Norimoto started four games in May and led the league with four victories (tied with one other). He tossed a shutout victory against Lotte on May 10 (12 SO, 5 H, 1 BB). He struck out twelve against Orix on May 3 and Nippon Ham on May 17 and ten against Orix on May 25. Including the last four games he pitched in April (ten against Seibu on the 19th and ten against Lotte on the 26th), he recorded ten or more strikeouts in six consecutive starts.
Brandon Laird, Nippon Ham (Second Time)
23 G, .333 AVG, 27 H, 10 HR, 27 RBI
Laird batted fifth in all of his team’s games in May. He led the league in slugging (.753), RBI (twenty-seven), and home runs (ten, tied with two others) and his sixty-one totals bases were second most in the league. His team won all seven games in which he drove two or more runs. He blasted home runs in four consecutive at bats spanning two games on May 12 and 13.
Nippon Ham players have now won the award seventy-one times, tied for most in league history with Orix.
Source: NPB 6/7/20170 Comments
Yuto Takahama, Nippon Ham
25 G, 32-for-95, 4 HR, 10 RBI, 1 SB, .337 BA
Takahama led the league in hits (thirty-two) and his batting average (.337) was second best. He recorded a hit in twenty-one of the twenty-five games he played in.
Yuma Mune, Orix
22 G, 28-for-87, 0 HR, 7 RBI, 3 SB, .322 BA
Mune played in all twenty-two games in March/April and recorded hits in eighteen games. His batting average (.322) and hit total (twenty-eight) was good for third in the league.
Source: NPB 5/11/20170 Comments
Atsushi Ugumori, Yakult (First Time)
April 2 vs Yokohama at Jingu Stadium. Bottom of the 10th with the bases loaded, one out, and the score tied at four. Ugumori drilled a pinch-hit, walk-off grand slam to left. The Swallows were down a run when Tetsuto Yamada blasted a two-run home run in the bottom of the third. The lead lasted until Yokohama plated a run in the fifth to tie the game at four. Ugumori recorded the first walk-off hit of his career. He also became just the tenth player in CL history (sixteenth in NPB history to record a pinch-hit, walk-off grand slam.
Ryo Hijirisawa, Rakuten (First Time)
April 16 vs Nippon Ham at Kobo Park Miyagi. Bottom of the 10th inning with runners on first and second, one out, and the score tied at three. Hijirisawa hit a pinch-hit, walk-off double to right-center. The Eagles trailed the Fighters by as many as three runs. They started chipping away at the lead in the bottom of the fifth and managed to tied the game in the bottom of the 9th. Hijirisawa notched the fourth walk-off hit of his career, first since 2015.
Source: NPB 5/10/20170 Comments
Randy Messenger, Hanshin (Second Time)
5 G, 4-0, 32.1 IP, 1.95 ERA, 37 SO, 7 ER
Messenger picked up his second MVP of the Month Award of his career. He led the league in wins (four) and strikeouts (thirty-seven). He recorded two victories against the Hiroshima Carp and helped keep his team within striking distance of first place. Yomiuri’s Tomoyuki Sugano was also under consideration, but Messenger got the nod because of his four wins and rock-steady performances. He is the first Hanshin player to win the award since Yuta Iwasada in September 2016. He joins Randy Bass (April 1985, June 1986) and Jason Standridge (June 2011, July 2011) as the only foreign pitchers in franchise history to win the award twice (he also won the award in July 2013).
Yohei Oshima, Chunichi (First Time)
26 G, .372 AVG, 42 H, 1 HR, 8 RBI, 5 SB
Oshima got the nod for MVP of the Month for the first time in his career. He played in every game in March/April and led the league in hitting (.372) and hits (forty-two). He recorded forty-one hits in April and became the first player to collect at least forty hits in a month since Soichiro Tateoka connected for forty in August 2015. He also recorded four hits in one game four times. On April 30, he became the 286th player in NPB history to reach the 1,000 hit milestone. Oshima is the first Dragon to win the award since Dayan Viciedo in March/April 2016.
Chihiro Kaneko, Orix (Seventh Time)
5 G, 4-0, 37.0 IP, 1.70 ERA, 2 CG, 1 ShO, 23 SO, 7 ER
Kaneko pitched in five games during March/April and recorded a league-leading two complete games. His four wins and thirty-seven innings were tied for most in the league and his 1.70 ERA was second best. He got off to a slow start by giving up four runs over five innings to Rakuten on opening day, but limited Nippon Ham to two runs over six innings on April 7 and recorded his first win of the season. He tossed a two-hit shutout against Softbank on April 14 and picked up his third win of the season by keeping Nippon Ham to one run over eight innings. He tossed his second complete game of the year on April 26 against Seibu for his fourth win. This is the seventh time he won the award, first since September 2014.
Takahiro Okada, Orix (Second Time)
23 G, .351 AVG, 27 H, 7 HR, 15 RBI
Okada played in all twenty-three games in March/April. He led the league in slugging (.675) and was tied for first in home runs (seven) and total bases (fifty-two). His on base percentage (.485) was good for second, runs scored (eighteen) good for third, and batting average (.351) good for fifth. He safely reached base in seventeen consecutive games, between April 8 and 30, and failed to reach base in only two games. He recorded three hits and three RBI in each game on April 20 against Nippon Ham and April 25 against Seibu. This is the second time he won the award, first since July 2010.
Orix players have now won the award seventy-one times, most in league history. Seibu and Nippon Ham each have seventy. Orix pitchers and hitters have now won the award during the same month ten times, also most in league history.
Source: NPB 5/9/20170 Comments