Randy Messenger, Hanshin (Third Time)
5 G, 4-1, 29.2 IP, 1.82 ERA, 28 SO, 6 ER
Messenger picked up his third MVP of the Month award, first since March/April of last year. He led the league with four wins. He became the first foreign pitcher to get the opening day start four years in a row. He is the first foreign Hanshin player to win three MVP of the Month awards. The previous record of two was held by Randy Bass (April 1985, June 1986) and Jason Standridge (June 2011, July 2011).
Hayato Sakamoto, Yomiuri (First Time)
25 G, .369 AVG, 38 H, 2 HR, 20 RBI, 2 SB
Sakamoto notched the first MVP of the Month award of his career. He led the league in batting average (.369) and hits (38). He went 4-for-4 against Yakult at Tokyo Dome on April 30, notched eleven multi-hit games, and recorded twenty RBI (good for a third place tie) in March/April. He is the first Yomiuri hitter to win an MVP of the Month award since Shuichi Murata in August 2013. He is the first shortstop in franchise history to win an MVP of the Month award.
Shinsaburo Tawata, Seibu (First Time)
5 G, 5-0, 35.0 IP, 2.06 ERA, 1 CG, 22 SO, 8 ER
Tawata pitched in five games and recorded five victories. His 2.06 ERA was good for a third place tie. He tossed six shutout innings against Nippon Ham on March 31, allowed one run over seven innings against Orix on April 7, gave up one run in a complete game victory against Rakuten on April 14, three runs in six innings against Lotte on April 21, and two runs over seven innings against Rakuten on April 29.
Hotaka Yamakawa, Seibu (Third Time)
24 G, .337 AVG, 28 H, 11 HR, 33 RBI
Yamakawa started in all twenty-four of his team’s games in March/April. he led the league in home runs (11), RBI (33), total bases (69), slugging percentage (.831), batting average with runners in scoring position (.560), and walks (22). He recorded at least one RBI in four games and homered in three consecutive games between April 21 and 25 (including a grand slam and three-run home run on April 25). He also hit home runs in two consecutive games on April 28 and 29.
Source: NPB 5/9/20180 Comments
Tomoyuki Sugano, Yomiuri (Fifth Time)
5 G, 4-0, 38.0 IP, 0.47 ERA, 26 SO, 2 ER, 2 CG, 1 ShO
Sugano notched his third MVP of the Month this season. He led the league in wins (tied with Joe Wieland) and ERA in September/October. He recorded two complete games, including a shutout, in five starts. He allowed earned runs in only one start. The five MVP of the Month awards ties the Yomiuri record for pitchers set by Masaki Saito. The three MVP of the Month awards in one season ties the league record for pitchers set by Masahiro Yamamoto in 1993.
Ryuhei Matsuyama, Hiroshima (First Time)
20 G, .408 AVG, 29 H, 5 HR, 23 RBI
Matsuyama batted clean-up in twenty September/October games. He led the league in hits and posted a .480 batting average with runners in scoring position. He helped the team put together a 16-5 record in September/October.
Yusei Kikuchi, Seibu (FirstTime)
4 G, 3-0, 31.0 IP, 0.29 ERA, 1 ShO, 37 SO, 1 ER
Kikuchi pitched in four games in September/October and went 3-0 with a shutout. He led the league with a 0.29 ERA. He tossed a four-hit shutout with ten strikeouts against Lotte on September 7, allowed a run (unearned) on four hits and struck out eleven over eight innings against Rakuten on September 14, pitched sixth shutout innings against Lotte on September 21, and gave up three runs (one earned) over eight innings against Rakuten on October 3.
Hotaka Yamakawa, Seibu (Second Time)
25 G, .326 AVG, 30 H, 10 HR, 19 RBI
Yamakawa played in twenty-five games in September/October and led the league in home runs, runs (19), total bases (68), and slugging percentage (.739). He recorded multiple hits in ten games and two or more RBI in six games. He is the fourth player in league history to win MVP of the Month awards for two consecutive months. The other three: Doug Jennings (July and August 1995), Ichiro (June and July 1998), and Yuki Yanagita (August and September 2015).
Source: NPB 10/17/20170 Comments
Miles Mikolas, Yomiuri (Second Time)
5 G, 4-1, 37.0 IP, 1.46 ERA, 44 SO, 6 ER
Mikolas picked up his second MVP of the Month award (first award on June 2015). He led the league in wins, ERA, innings pitched, and strikeouts. He pitched at least seven innings and allowed two runs or less in all five of his starts in August. He is the first foreign pitcher in Yomiuri Giants’ franchise history to win the MVP of the Month award two times.
Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, Yokohama (Third Time)
25 G, .315 AVG, 29 H, 7 HR, 23 RBI
Tsutsugo won an MVP of the Month award for the third time in his career, and first since July 2016. He batted third in every game in August and led the league in RBI. His batting average and home runs were also among the top players in the league. He led all hitters with a .550 batting average with runner on base.
Dennis Sarfate, Softbank (Second Time)
13 G, 1-1, 11 Sv, 12.1 IP, 1.46 ERA, 20 SO, 2 ER
Sarfate pitched in thirteen games in August and led the league in saves. Eleven saves in one month is second most in Pacific League history (he set the record with twelve in May 2016). He recorded a save in ten consecutive appearances between August 9 and 31. He earned his first MVP of the Month award for May 2016.
Hotaka Yamakawa, Seibu (First Time)
27 G, .326 AVG, 30 H, 9 HR, 28 RBI
Yamakawa batted fifth sixteen times, fourth six times, and sixth five times. He led the league in home runs, RBI, total bases (64), walks (20), on base percentage (.451) and slugging percentage (.696). He recorded two or more hits in eleven games and two or more RBI in ten games. He hit home runs in three consecutive plate appearances on August 2 against Rakuten and recorded three hits and three RBI the following day on August 3 against Rakuten. He recorded at least three RBI in four of the nine Rakuten games in August.
Source: NPB 9/7/20170 Comments
April 26 vs Softbank at YafuOku Dome – Yamakawa blasted the second grand slam of his career in the third inning. He hit his first grand slam in September 7, 2016. Yamakawa also hit a three-run home run in the sixth and ended up with the first seven-RBI game of his career.
April 30 vs Rakuten at MetLife Dome – Yamakawa blasted his fourth home run of the month and became the first Japanese player to hit ten home runs in April since Osamu Hamanaka in 2006.
Source: Sports Hochi 4/30/2018
June 15 vs Chunichi at MetLife Dome – Yamakawa recorded the first walk-off of his career: an RBI double to left with runners on first and second and one out in the tenth off Hiroshi Suzuki.
Source: Sponichi 6/16/2018
September 15 vs Softbank at MetLife Dome – Yamakawa blasted two home runs (fifth inning, off Kodai Senga and eighth inning, off Rei Takahashi) and pushed his season total to forty. He is the first Lion to reach forty home runs since Takeya Nakamura hit forty-eight in 2011.
Source: Nikkan Sports 9/16/2018
Yamakawa studied Japanese calligraphy when he was a child — from kindergarten until he was about fifteen. He made it to 8-dan before quitting.
Source: Sponichi 8/29/2017
Yamakawa once dropped about twelve kilograms for his Seijinshiki (Coming-of-Age Ceremony).
Source: Sanspo 1/8/2018
Yamakawa was not happy with the offer the Seibu Lions gave him during contract negotiations on December 5, 2017. He decided not to sign and became the first Lions holdover since 2010. Yamakawa earned an estimated sixteen million yen this season. The Lions may have offered around thirty million yen. Yamakawa may have wanted something in the range of forty million yen.
UPDATE 12/12: Yamakawa sat down with the Lions on December 12 for a second round of discussions and agreed to an estimated thirty-two million yen. He later told reporters during a press conference that he was satisfied with the team’s assessment of his season.
Yamakawa filed marriage papers with a twenty-seven-year-old woman, who was one-year ahead of him at Fuji University, on August 9, 2017. The two celebrated their seventh year together on August 9.0 Comments