Atsunori Inaba, who reached 2,000 hits in his career on April 28 and is leading the Pacific League in five offensive categories, has drawn more votes than any player in either league in the balloting for this summer’s All-Star games.
The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters first baseman was No. 1 in the mid-term voting results announced by Nippon Professional Baseball on Monday. Inaba, who leads the PL in batting average, slugging average, doubles, total bases and RBIs, led both leagues with 12,942 votes. Yomiuri Giants center fielder Hisayoshi Chono was tops in the Central League with 9,581.
In the ballot for starting pitchers, the Giants’ Toshiya Sugiuchi (3,691) led Yokohama ace Daisuke Miura (3,400). The most popular PL starting pitcher was Fukuoka Softbank’s Tadashi Settsu, with 3,465 votes, over Fighters’ idol Yuki Saito (3,119). The Hawks lead the PL vote count in five categories, while the Giants own pole position in four of the CL’s categories.
Unlike the major leagues, where the fans select the starters and pitchers and reserves are named by each league’s manager, Japan’s fans get to select a starting pitcher, a closer and middle reliever in addition to the other positions. Although the fans get more choice, the managers make the decision about who will start.
Game 1 of this summer’s series will be played on July 20 at Kyocera Dome. Game 2 will be at Matsuyama’s Botchan Stadium the following day, while the series finale will be held July 23 in Morioka at Iwate Prefectural Stadium.