Right-handers Yasuhiro Ogawa of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows and Takahiro Norimoto of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles were named Rookie of the Year on Monday in the Central and Pacific Leagues, respectively.
The 23-year-old Ogawa garnered 252 of 273 eligible votes in the CL while Norimoto, 22, received 223 of the 233 votes cast in the PL. The Rookie of the Year is decided by the nation’s baseball writers in a vote ahead of the Japan Series.
The 171-cm Ogawa, who emulates his pitching style after Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, went 16-4 with three shutouts in 26 starts, leading the league in wins and winning percentage.
“This was my goal since the season started so I’m happy,” Ogawa said. “By beating out players who are bigger than me, I was hoping to give confidence to kids that they can do the same.
“Resting during the offseason will be important. I want to relax in a hot spring.”
Norimoto was 15-8 with a 3.34 ERA in 27 starts and, along with ace Masahiro Tanaka, buttressed the rotation to lead the Eagles to their first pennant and the Japan Series title.
He is the first PL rookie to win 15 games since Daisuke Matsuzaka in 1999 with the Seibu Lions.
“I feel like this day has finally arrived since declaring that I wanted to win (during spring training in Okinawa in February),” Norimoto said. “This is an award you can only win once in your career. It’s an honor to be able to get it.”
It was the first time (10th overall) since outfielder Norichika Aoki in 2005 that a Swallows player won the award. Norimoto is only the second to be named from the Eagles after Tanaka in 2007.
Yomiuri Giants rookie Tomoyuki Sugano (13) was a distant second in the CL voting while Hanshin Tigers right-hander Shintaro Fujinami (8) was third.
Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters newcomer Shohei Otani, who pitched and played outfield, tied for second in the PL with four votes.
The leagues’ MVPs will be announced on Tuesday.
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