Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Outfielders Takai, Yanagita named May MVPs for position players; Ino, Kishi earn pitching accolades


Yokoham BayStars right-hander Shoichi Ino and Tokyo Yakult Swallows outfielder Yuhei Takai won the MVP awards for the month of May for pitchers and position players, respectively, after the announcement of the winners in the Central League on Friday.

The Pacific League MVP awards went to Seibu Lions righty Takayuki Kishi and Fukuoka Softbank Hawks outfielder Yuki Yanagita. Ino, Takai and Yanagita were all first-time winners.

Kishi claimed the honor for the second time in six years — the longest gap without winning the award among PL pitchers.

Second-year Ino threw his first career shutout and topped the league with four wins. Takai batted .364 with eight homers and 19 RBIs. He boasted a league-high slugging percentage of .646.

Takai, whose eight homers surpassed teammate Wladimir Balentien, is the first player to have started as a pitcher on the top team but win the award after becoming a position player, since Toru Nimura achieved the feat with the Chunichi Dragons in September of 1993.

“I feel gratitude that I was able to join as a pitcher and switch to being a position player,” Takai said.

Kishi pitched a no-hitter against the Chiba Lotte Marines in Chiba on May 2 and led the PL with four wins. Yanagita had a league-leading .395 batting average.

“My teammates hit and played good defense for me, and that’s why I could get a no-hitter. If I am able to pitch solidly, there won’t be severe ups and downs,” Kishi said.