Monthly honors 6-21

No, not the official ones selected by someone nominated by the awards’ insurance company sponsors but the position players and pitchers of the month. I’ll give defense its due when NPB’s hitter award doesn’t, and put less emphasis on feel-good anecdotes the way they did in May — see “3 hits and a near miss.”

Central League

Tyler Austin of the DeNA BayStars was ignored by the insurance company guys in May, but in June, he gets a second straight CL position player of the month award. Unfortunately, no cash prizes are awarded.

In June, Austin tied for second in the CL in home runs with nine, was second in RBIs with 25, tied for second in runs scored, posted a CL-best .506 on-base percentage, led in slugging by a wide margin, and by batting .406, all but ensured the insurers will pay off on his claim.

Koyo Aoyagi of the Hanshin Tigers led the CL in ERA and innings pitched with 30 and was second in strikeouts with 24. He also went 4-0.

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Pacific League

Yutaro Sugimoto of the Orix Buffaloes will probably also get the insurer’s stamp of approval. His 15 runs were second in the PL, while he led with 19 RBIs, and tied for third with five homers behind the six hit Hotaka Yamakawa and Yuki Yanagita. Sugimoto’s .438 OBP was third behind Buffaloes’ leadoff man Shuhei Fukuda’s .466 and Kensuke Kondo’s .456, and he led the league in slugging. So a complete package.

Yoshinobu Yamamoto of the Orix Buffaloes, threw together a league-best 0.64 ERA over 28 innings while striking out 39 batters. The only real contender for the June award is 19-year-old rookie teammate Hiroya Miyagi, who had a monthly MVP-caliber season, but that happens sometimes.

NPB’s batter and pitcher of the month awards will be announced Wednesday, and if they get these ones wrong, I’ll be really surprised.

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