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When the “Year of Ma-kun” comes to an end and Masahiro Tanaka collects the hardware likely headed his way as NPB’s best pitcher, there should be at least a little praise left over for Orix Buffaloes pitcher Chihiro Kaneko.

Tanaka’s unprecedented run of success — 27 consecutive winning decisions since last losing on Aug. 19, 2012 — and questions surrounding a possible move to MLB have created a news cycle around him that’s not unlike a force of nature in the way it has swallowed up the lion’s share of headlines and attention in Japan.

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