Highly praised Hanshin Tigers rookie Shintaro Fujinami was the top vote-getter in fan balloting among Central League starters for the upcoming All-Star Series after results were announced at the halfway point on Monday.
Fujinami received 96,322 votes, ahead of second-place Hiroshima Carp right-hander Ken Maeda (89,995) in the category for starting pitcher. Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters rookie right-hander Shohei Otani came third for Pacific League outfielders with 133,466 but failed to make the top 10 among PL starters.
By far, Orix Buffaloes outfielder Yoshio Itoi is the most popular in both leagues with 258,969 votes. Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles stalwart Masahiro Tanaka has garnered the most votes for a PL starter with 101,371.
Rakuten had four top vote-getters, also including Motohiro Shima (catcher), Kazuo Matsui (shortstop) and Andruw Jones (designated hitter).
Orix matched its PL rival for top in four categories, among them Yoshihisa Hirano (closer), Lee Dai Ho (first base) and Aarom Baldiris (third base).
Hanshin second baseman Tsuyoshi Nishioka amassed 180,493 votes to top the category in the CL. Tigers players, including shortstop Takashi Toritani, topped three categories.
Final results of fan balloting will be released next Monday, and the results of the players’ votes will be announced three days later. The managers’ picks of players will be announced on July 1 before each league adds an additional member on July 10 as a special entry.
Game 1 is scheduled for July 19 at Sapporo Dome, followed by Game 2 at Jingu Stadium on the 20th and Game 3 on the 22nd at Iwaki Green Stadium in Fukushima Prefecture.