Had a few things to get out of the way this week, a Seiya Suzuki story for a Japanese magazine, and a softball story for the day job, so I put off voting until today.
For each league we get to cast three votes for MVP. The winner is the player with the highest point total of their 5-point first-place votes, 3-point second-place votes and their 1-point third-place votes.
We then get to cast one ballot for rookie of the year and for the Best Nine, which is actually a Best 10 in the PL, but who’s counting.
I wrote about my MVP methodology, while evaluating rival methods in “Most valuable what?”
To save you the suspense, I voted for Suzuki as MVP. Hopefully he’ll get more than the three first-place votes and 77 total points he received in 2019, when he also led both leagues in wins above replacement but finished fourth.
It’s worth noting in that vote, that Suzuki led all CL outfielders in the Best Nine vote with 286 votes to Yoshihiro Maru’s 220, who finished well ahead of Suzuki in the MVP vote.
This is one I still don’t get. Most people thought Suzuki was the league’s most valuable outfielder, but not more valuable player than another player they thought less of. Welcome to Japan’s postseason award house of mirrors.
For most of the second half of the season, my rookie of the year vote came down to an everyday player, Shugo Maki, and a closer, Ryoji Kuribayashi, both of whom were pretty darn good, but in the end it came down to Maki and right-handed starter Yasunobu Okugawa of the Swallows
- Shugo Maki, 2B, BayStars
- Yasunobu Okugawa, RHP, Swallows
- Ryoji Kuribayashi, RHP, Carp
- Takumu Nakano, SS, Tigers
- Masashi Ito, Starting pitcher, Tigers
My Best Nine votes are all pretty straight forward, though I’m sure there will be some disagreement. My two most difficult choices were at first base, where Carp catcher Shogo Sakakura played half the time, and was my choice over the Tigers’ Jefry Marte.
Marte played more at first base, but you can’t take credit away from Sakakura for spending the other half of the season at a much-more demanding defensive position while outhitting Marte overall. My pick for catcher was the Swallows’ Yuhei Nakamura, and I believe a team with Nakamura and Sakakura would be better than a team with Nakamura and Marte.
The other hard choice was in the outfield, where I went with DeNA’s Masayuki Kuwahara ahead of Yoshihiro Maru. I’m not a huge fan of Kuwahara’s but he had an unbelievable year under new manager Daisuke Miura, and he deserves credit for that.
Here’s my ballot in romaji with the original in Japanese below.