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In a year when no pitching candidates leaped off the stat sheet to seize the Sawamura Award by force, perhaps the selectors would opt for a long-shot candidate such as Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters ace Shohei Otani.

Like Sawamura, Otani is the fastest pitcher of his era — and the fastest ever recorded in Japan. But because he bats and bats so well, the Fighters preferred to have him bat every day rather than pitch for two months during the summer.

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