Yoshinobu Yamamoto

2023 Best 9s and 10s

It’s that time again. The day I have to dig up the votes I cast for the season’s top players at each position in Japan’s Pacific and Central Leagues.

The big news is that Yoshinobu Yamamoto got every vote cast for the PL’s top pitcher except one, that went to Yoshihisa Hirano, and that’s a story I’m keen to hear about. My guess is that the reason Hirano received a vote was that someone with poor eyesight selected No. 16 on the spreadsheet we’re given instead of No. 18, and failed to check it.

Before COVID, the combined Best-Nine, MVP and Rookie of the Year Award ballots were a kanji-writing test, since failure to get the strokes right could disqualify a vote for a player. Now they are an eye chart.

Here are the winners and the runners-up for the PL’s best 10 and the CL’s best nine:

Pacific League

  • P: Yoshinobu Yamamoto 266 — Yoshihisa Hirano 1
  • C: Tomoya Mori 113 — Kenya Wakatsuki 92
  • 1B: Yuma Tongu 255 — Akira Nakamura 9
  • 2B: Hideto Asamura 191 — Shuta Tonosaki 48
  • 3B: Yuma Mune 185 — Hisanori Yasuda 41
  • SS: Kotaro Kurebayashi 226 — Kenta Imamiya 19
  • OF: Kensuke Kondo 261, Chusei Mannami 218, Yuki Yanagita 191 — Keita Nakagawa 73
  • DH: Gregory Polanco 206 — Yuki Yanagita 23

I voted for seven of the 10 winners. My three outliers were:

  • Kotaro Kiyomiya at 3B, one of seven votes he received
  • Yudai Fujioka at SS, one of his six votes
  • Keita Nakagawa instead of Chusei Mannami

Central League

  • P: Katsuki Azuma 217 — Shoki Murakami 73
  • C: Takumi Oshiro 180 — Seishiro Sakamoto 64
  • 1B: Yusuke Oyama 252 — Kazuma Okamoto 50
  • 2B: Shugo Maki 204 — Takumu Nakano 95
  • 3B: Toshiro Miyazaki 140 — Kazuma Okamoto 131
  • SS: Seiya Kinami 227 — Hayato Sakamoto 69
  • OF: Koji Chikamoto 298, Ryoma Nishikawa 185, Yuki Okabayashi 150 — Domingo Santana 133
  • DH: Just kidding.

I voted for eight of the winners, except for Seiya Kinami at shortstop. My vote went to Hayato Sakamoto.

Other notes

Kazuma Okamoto received 183 votes, 43 more than the CL’s winner at third base, unfortunately, they were split between the three positions he played.

Two catchers who did not play the most games at their positions for their teams this year, Seishiro Sakamoto and Kenya Wakatsuke, each finished second in the ballot, while Yuma Tongu did very well, receiving one vote for the PL’s best catcher, while recording exactly one putout in one game.

I think a number of these weird votes that are not mistakes, are so that writers can suck up to players by saying they voted for them when they didn’t really deserve it. We all make mistakes, but I’m also guilty of not double checking my electronic ballot and making some goofs, but I never intentionally voted for someone I didn’t think deserved it.

The MVP and Rookie of the Year awards are announced Tuesday.

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