/ |

Ogasawara making a feast of PL pitching

by Jason Coskrey

Michihiro Ogasawara left the Pacific League to join the Yomiuri Giants in 2007.

Two years later, PL pitchers are still glad he’s gone.

The Giants slugger has torched PL pitching during this year’s interleague season, harkening back to the years he spent in the PL with the Nippon Ham Fighters.

Ogasawara has had his way with PL pitching during the interleague schedule, leading Japanese baseball with a .412 average.

Through 12 games Ogasawara is the only player batting above .400 during the Koryusen season and is tied with Fukuoka Softbank Hawks second baseman Yuichi Honda for the lead in doubles (6).

His play over the last few weeks also helped land him his seventh monthly MVP award, it was announced Wednesday.

His success is nothing new to PL teams, who saw him excel with the Fighters from 1997-2006. Ogasawara left the league with a bang, batting .312 with 32 home runs and 100 RBIs to win the PL MVP and help lead the Fighters to the Japan Series title in 2006 before joining the Giants in the Central League.

Ogasawara followed that with another MVP season in his first year in the CL, winning the award after batting .313 with 31 homers and 88 RBIs. Ogasawara is just the second player to win the MVP award in both leagues, equaling the feat of Yutaka Enatsu, who won the CL MVP in 1979 with the Hiroshima Carp and the PL award in 1981 with the Fighters.

“Guts” was fairly productive during his first interleague season in 2007 with the Giants, batting .301 with eight home runs and 19 RBIs. The PL got the best of the former MVP last season as Ogasawara slumped to a .213 average with three home runs and nine RBIs.

This season, he’s back with a vengeance and showing the way for the CL-leading Giants.

Teammate Shinnosuke Abe has also been productive at the plate against the PL, batting .350 with four home runs and eight RBIs, and fellow Yomiuri star Alex Ramirez has an interleague-high 14 RBIs.

As a team, the Giants haven’t been able to quite match that success, sitting sixth in the interleague standings with a 4-5-3 record.

Double vision: Hiroshima Carp pitcher Kan Otake and Yomiuri Giants hurler Dicky Gonzalez where both deserving of being named the Central League’s monthly MVP among pitchers during for the month of May.

So instead of deciding between them, the league just picked both.

For the first time in 23 years the CL selected two monthly MVPs from the same position, it was learned when the league announced its award winners on Wednesday.

Otake made five starts during the month, winning four times and didn’t give up a run until Takeshi Yamasaki’s two-run homer on May 31. Gonzalez, meanwhile, won all five games he started without issuing a walk.

Ogasawara was the CL pick among position players, while Hokkaido Nippon Ham swept the PL honors with ace Yu Darvish and outfielder Atsunori Inaba named the MVPs for the month of May.