The Golden Rule

The way to win a pitching Golden Glove in Japan is more or less just to be a successful pitcher.

I keep records of how many times players lead their leagues in different offensive categories in a given season. For pitchers, that’s wins, losses, saves, holds, winning percentage, innings pitched, strikeouts and ERA.

A survey of Japan’s annual Golden Glove votes since 2003, suggests that pitchers who top lots of categories in a given year are more likely to win a Golden Glove.

Categories lednAverage shareWin pct

Every pitcher since 2003 who has led his league in three different categories, has received Golden Glove votes.

Since the awards were first handed out, as “Diamond Gloves” in 1972, only three first-time winners failed to lead their league in a pitching category.

Three of seven pitchers since 1972 have won after leading in six categories. It’s 7-of-15 for the five-category leaders, 12-of-30 for the fours, 16-of-55 for the threes, 6-of-84 for the twos, and 26-of-405 for the ones.

For catchers, it’s the exact opposite. Only one Golden Glove-winning catcher has ever led the league in an offensive category, Hall of Famer Atsuya Furuta, and he didn’t do that until after he’d won his first fielding award.

Who’s the best?

This research started with the question: which recent players have received the most total shares of Golden Votes over their careers. But because few players’ careers spanned that entire period other than Tsuyoshi Wada, Kosuke Fukudome and Daisuke Matsuzaka, I broke it down into two groups, a 2003-2011 group and a 2012-2021 group.

The answer to the first question is Hiroshima Carp second baseman Ryosuke Kikuchi, who did not get a single vote in his rookie season, when he took over the everyday job in the second half of the 2012 season.

I was going to do a top ten, but with retired catcher Motonobu Tanishige 10th and current Hawks catcher Takuya Kai 11th, I couldn’t pass up on putting Kai in there for comparison. Kai definitely has a chance to zoom up this table in the coming years.

Ryosuke Kikuchi2B7.4199
Yohei OshimaOF6.31912
Yoshihiro MaruOF6.16711
Nobuhiro Matsuda3B5.56813
Shogo AkiyamaOF5.4879
Norichika AokiOF5.37711
Hirokazu IbataSS5.1478
Yoshio ItoiOF4.87711
Kosuke FukudomeOF4.45411
Motonobu TanishigeC4.18512
Takuya KaiC4.1055
Years indicates the number of years receiving votes in the period between 2003 and 2021.

Since 2003, the voters’ favorite pitcher has been current Minnesota Twin Kenta Maeda, who won five of the seven years he received votes with a total award share of 3.68.

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