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Hawks’ Settsu earns Sawamura Award

Kyodo

Fukuoka Softbank Hawks right-hander Tadashi Settsu was named Monday this year’s winner of the Sawamura Award, the Japanese equivalent of the Cy Young in the major leagues.

Settsu was chosen as NPB’s most outstanding pitcher of 2012 after leading both leagues with 17 wins against five losses for the third-place Hawks. The 30-year-old right-hander had an ERA of 1.91 with 153 strikeouts in 193 1/3 innings while leading the Pacific League with a .773 winning percentage.

Settsu is Softbank’s first Sawamura recipient since Kazumi Saito in 2006.

“I never imagined I’d be the one to win it,” said Settsu, who has spent his entire career with the Hawks since 2009 when he signed from JR East Tohoku of the corporate leagues.

“It’s the highest honor for a pitcher so I couldn’t be happier. I managed to win this award because I made the most of my experiences in middle relief. I hope I can put up even better numbers next year to live up to the award,” he said.

A five-man committee uses seven benchmarks to select a winner — 15 wins, a 2.50 ERA, 200 innings pitched, 10 complete games, 150 strikeouts, 25 appearances and a .600 winning percentage.

Settsu met five of the seven criteria. He was the only pitcher with five ticks alongside Hiroshima Carp ace Kenta Maeda, who won the award two years ago.

Last year, Yu Darvish, then of the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, and the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles’ Masahiro Tanaka cleared all seven categories.

“His record was as good as any recipient in the past,” said Masayuki Dobashi, who chairs the selection committee. “He had more wins than (Maeda). If it weren’t for his 17 wins, the team would not have finished third.”