Jose Lopez’s late-season surge and 5-0 finishes for pitchers Yuta Iwasada and Hirotoshi Masui were recognized Friday, as each was named a monthly MVP in their respective league for the first time.
The three were joined on the honor roll by Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks captain Seiichi Uchikawa, who won his fifth career player of the month award.
Lopez, first baseman for the Central League’s Yokohama BayStars, finished with a flourish. Although he batted just .275 since the start of September, Lopez hit 12 homers, was second in the CL with 18 runs and his 26 RBIs tied Uchikawa for the most in Japan.
Iwasada, a 25-year-old left-hander who was the Hanshin Tigers’ top draft pick in 2013, was plagued by poor run support this seson. But a few extra runs and a 0.58 ERA over 31 innings saw him take top pitching honors in the CL. He added a cherry on top with a win on Oct. 1 that pushed his record to 10-9.
Uchikawa led the Pacific League with a .347 batting average in September and had a league-high 33 hits. His last monthly award came in July of 2014. His first came in the CL with the BayStars in August of 2008.
Masui was the Fighters’ closer from the start of the 2014 season until this June, when he was sent down to the farm due to poor form. On Aug. 4, he returned to action as a starting pitcher for the first time since 2010.
Since then he’s 6-1 with two complete games. In September, he posted a 1.10 ERA over 32⅔ innings with one shutout and 25 strikeouts.
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