Baseball / Japanese Baseball

Buffaloes earn NPB-best four Golden Gloves

Kyodo

The Orix Buffaloes, who lost the tightest of pennant races this year to the Pacific League champion Fukuoka Softbank Hawks, were second to none Thursday, when this year’s Golden Glove Award were announced.

The Buffaloes led all 12 Nippon Professional Baseball clubs with four Golden Gloves, three going to first-time winners pitcher Chihiro Kaneko, catcher Hikaru Ito and first baseman Takahiro Okada. Outfielder Yoshio Itoi won his sixth straight.

“Winning this award is one of my goals every year,” said Itoi, who was playing his second season for Orix. “So, to be able to win this year makes me really happy. It is an honor.”

The Hawks won three, going to third baseman Nobuhiro Matsuda, shortstop Kenta Imamiya and center fielder Yuki Yanagita. It was Matsuda’s third, Imamiya’s second and Yanagita’s first.

The last two PL honors went to Nippon Ham Fighters center fielder Daikan Yoh, who won his third straight, and Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles second baseman Kazuya Fujita, who won his second straight.

The Hiroshima Carp, who finished third in the Central League this year, led the CL with three fielding honors, the fourth for ace pitcher Kenta Maeda, and the second straight for both center fielder Yoshihiro Maru and second baseman Ryosuke Kikuchi, who won the most lopsided vote in either league. Kikuchi was named on 237 ballots, with just eight votes going to other players.

The CL champion Yomiuri Giants, the second-place Hanshin Tigers and the fourth-place Chunichi Dragons each grabbed two.

Giants captain Shinnosuke Abe, who is expected to play first base next season, won his fourth at catcher in a ballot. In the CL catcher’s ballot, 96 votes went to Abe, while 94 voters chose to name no candidates at the position. Giants third baseman Shuichi Murata won his second straight.

The Tigers’ honors went to captain Takashi Toritani, who won for the third time at shortstop, and center fielder Yamato Maeda. A first-time winner, Maeda put on a fielding clinic during this year’s Japan Series.

At first base, the Dragons’ Masahiko Morino won the first Golden Glove of his career after spending most of his 18-year career at third, making him the most experienced first-time winner in either league. A Dragons teammate, center fielder Yohei Oshima, won for the third time.