Austin, rookie Morishita earn monthly honors
Austin led the Central League with 11 home runs and a .346 batting average in October. The NPB website lauds him for fighting hard to keep the BayStars in the “A-class” (top-three) teams, although the team finished fourth.
His selection marked the third straight monthly award to a BayStars hitter after Keita Sano‘s August award and Takayuki Kajitani‘s in September. The last team to win three straight was the 2015 CL champion Yakult Swallows.
Morishita, the Carp’s top pick in last autumn’s draft, went 4-0 with a 0.24 ERA over 37 innings. He became the first Carp rookie to win 10 games since current ace Daichi Osera in 2014. He’s the first rookie to win a CL monthly pitching honor since Hayato Takagi, then of the Yomiuri Giants won for March and April in 2015.
The 35-year-old Kishi, who won for the fourth time, made six starts, winning five, to tie for the league lead. He struck out 50 batters in a superb finish to a season slowed, like several of Kishi’s have been, by injury. The right-hander went at least six innings in each of his September and October starts.
It’s Kishi’sfirst award since May 2018.
The 32-year-old Yanagita, played in all 32 of his team’s games over the final two months, when the Hawks broke with recent form by not taking it easy after clinching. Instead, Yanagita led the team as they celebrated their first PL title in three years by throwing opponents into a wood chipper.
Yanagita led in batting average (.360) on-base percentage (.459) and tied for the PL lead with 22 RBIs as the Hawks set an NPB record for wins in a month with 22. It was his second monthly award of the year, having won the award for June and July.
Fighters to cut Villanueva
Christian Villanueva, who got a second chance in Japan this season with the Nippon Ham Fighters only to suffer through a series of small injuries and play just 54 games, will not be retained, the Pacific League club said Wednesday.
The 29-year-old Villanueva came to Japan last year with the Yomiuri Giants, but was a disappointment, hitting eight home runs in 73 games with a .325 OBP and a .386 slugging average. This year, his home run production dropped and he posted just a .351 slugging average.