Kyodo News

Japan’s World Baseball Classic-winning team on Wednesday was named the most valuable performer in Japanese professional sports in 2006.

The Japan Professional Sports Association selected the team led by Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki and new Boston Red Sox right-hander Daisuke Matsuzaka for winning the inaugural title in March with a 10-6 victory over Cuba in the final.

WBC team manager Sadaharu Oh received a special award, along with money winner on the women’s golf tour Shiho Oyama and veteran golfer Tsuneyuki Nakajima.

The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, who captured their first Japan Series title in 44 years, Urawa Reds, who clinched their first J. League championship crown, and Asashoryu, who won four of the six sumo tournaments in the year, were also honored.

Nippon Ham left-hander Tomoya Yagi won the Rookie of the Year award after posting a 12-8 record with a 2.48 ERA in the regular season.

A committee of representatives from Tokyo newspapers, wire services, television and radio for sports media were responsible for making the selections.