August players of the month

Yuki Yanagita of the SoftBank Hawks is sure to be named the PL’s player of the month — although “batting average leader of the month” would be a better title since the folks that pick them don’t seem to care whether a candidate has any defensive value or does anything besides hit for average. Since layers who lead their league in batting in a month, while hitting .400, are generally a lock for the award, this month’s CL selection should be interesting.

There are two good candidates. Soichiro Tateoka, who hit an even .400 for the Yomiuri Giants, and Tetsuto Yamada, who led the league in a few categories (runs, home runs, total bases, RBIs, stolen bases, slugging average and OPS, while batting a measly .310 for the Yakult Swallows.

For pitchers of the month, it will be a surprise if anyone but Chunichi Dragons rookie Shunta Wakamatsu (4-1, 2.12 ERA) wins, although it could go to Miles Mikolas of the Giants (3-0, 0.75 ERA in three starts) to make up for not being selected in July after winning the June award.

There are four good candidates for the PL pitcher of the month award, three starters and one reliever. Hawks ace Tadashi Settsu, Orix Buffaloes youngster Daiki Tomei and Nippon Ham lefty Mitsuo Yoshikawa each went 3-0 — which is pretty much the minimum standard for a starter. Tomei had the best ERA, 1.55, while Settsu won all three of his starts and had a complete game, while striking out 23 batters in 22 innings. The reliever is Hawks closer Dennis Sarfate, who pitched in 11 games, won one, saved eight and had two holds. Sarfate struck out 19 batters in 11-2/3 innings.


Jim Allen

sports editor for a wire service in Tokyo

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