Yuki Yanagita led all players in the fan balloting for this year’s Central and Pacific league All-Star Games, Nippon Professional Baseball announced Monday.
Yanagita, the center fielder for the two-time defending Japan Series champion Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, pulled in 521,685 votes to lead all players from both leagues. Tokyo Yakult Swallows second baseman Tetsuto Yamada, who hit his Japan-best 25th home run on Sunday, topped the CL fan ballot with 467,633.
The fan vote is the first part of the selection process. The top choices at each position in the players vote will be added to the roster on Thursday. Unlike the fans, the players don’t vote for relief pitchers.
The managers, Mitsuru Manaka of the CL-champion Swallows and Kimiyasu Kudo of the Hawks, will fill out the remaining roster spots on July 4 for the games on July 15 at Fukuoka’s Yafuoku Dome and on July 16 at Yokohama Stadium.
Kudo’s Hawks, who entered play on Monday with a 7-1/2 game lead over the second-place Chiba Lotte Marines, led all 12 NPB-teams with the most players winning the fan ballot. In addition to Yanagita, the fans selected closer Dennis Sarfate, third baseman Nobuhiro Matsuda, shortstop Kenta Imamiya and designated hitter Yuya Hasegawa. Neither the Marines nor the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles won a single place through the fan vote.
The Hiroshima Carp, who currently lead the CL by eight games over the Yomiuri Giants, had two fan-vote winners, first baseman Takahiro Arai and center fielder Yoshihiro Maru.
One rookie was voted onto the team, Hanshin Tigers outfielder Shun Takayama.
Fan all-star ballot winners:
Starting pitcher: Tomoyuki Sugano, Yomiuri Giants
Middle reliever: Shinji Tajima, Chunichi Dragons
Closer: Yasuaki Yamasaki, Yokohama BayStars
Catcher: Yuhei Nakamura, Tokyo Yakult Swallows
First Base: Takahiro Arai, Hiroshima Carp
Second Base: Tetsuto Yamada, Tokyo Yakult Swallows
Third Base: Shingo Kawabata, Tokyo Yakult Swallows
Shortstop: Hayato Sakamoto, Yomiuri Giants
Outfielders: Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, Yokohama BayStars; Yoshihiro Maru, Hiroshima Carp; Shun Takayama, Hanshin Tigers
Starting pitcher: Shohei Otani, Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters
Middle reliever: Kazuhisa Makita, Seibu Lions
Closer: Dennis Sarfate, Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks
Catcher: Ginjiro Sumitani, Seibu Lions
First Base: Sho Nakata, Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters
Second Base: Hideto Asamura, Seibu Lions
Third Base: Nobuhiro Matsuda, Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks
Shortstop: Kenta Imamiya, Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks
Outfielders: Yuki Yanagita, Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks; Shogo Akiyama, Seibu Lions; Yoshio Itoi, Orix Buffaloes
Designated Hitter: Yuya Hasegawa, Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks