The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks had the golden touch during the regular season, postseason and Japan Series.
So it should be no surprise nothing has changed now that awards season is here.
With third baseman Nobuhiro Matsuda and shortstop Kenta Imamiya leading the way, the Hawks led all NPB teams with four players having their names called when the Mitsui Golden Glove Awards were announced during a news conference on Thursday.
Matsuda extended his own Pacific League record with his sixth Golden Glove, and fifth straight, while Imamiya won for the fifth consecutive year. They’ve won as a third base-shortstop tandem for five straight seasons, adding another year onto a record they already owned.
Hawks outfielder Yuki Yanagita was also honored, and catcher Takuya Kai became the first former ikusei (developmental) draftee to claim a Golden Glove at the position in the Pa League.
Seibu Lions ace Yusei Kikuchi was the winner at pitcher in the PL, becoming the fourth lefty to be honored and first since Kimiyasu Kudo, then with the Daiei Hawks, in 1995.
His teammate, outfielder Shogo Akiyama, was also a winner this season. Akiyama earned the award for the third straight season and fourth time overall.
Ginji Akaminai won the first Golden Glove of his 12-year career and is the first-ever Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles first baseman to be honored.
Chiba Lotte Marines captain Daichi Suzuki was the winner at second base in the PL.
“I didn’t think I would be chosen, so I’m very surprised,” Suzuki said in a statement released by the team. “I’m full of appreciation for our manager, who kept using an unskilled player like me, the coaches who hit fungoes with me until it got late and the staff who helped my practices.”
The other outfield spot went to the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters’ Haruki Nishikawa. The Fighters have now had at least one outfielder honored every year since 1993, a PL record.
“I would like to express my appreciation for being selected,” Nishikawa said in a team-issued statement. “This is an award I wanted to win at least once in my career and I have been working toward it since the spring, so I’m extremely happy.”
The most lopsided race in either league was at second base in the Central League, where the Hiroshima Carp’s Ryosuke Kikuchi won his fifth straight with 246 votes, far outpacing runner-up Tetsuto Yamada, of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, who had eight.
Kikuchi was alone in representing Hiroshima with outfielders Yoshihiro Maru and Seiya Suzuki also winning the award. Maru, who won for the fifth straight year, and Suzuki, who won his second straight, are the first CL outfielders from the same team to be honored together in successive years since former Yomiuri Giants Hideki Matsui and Yoshinobu Takahashi accomplished the feat from 2000-2002.
“Frankly, I’m happy to have won, but I also had a lot of errors, so I shouldn’t be satisfied,” Suzuki was quoted as saying by Daily Sports following a workout in Hatsukaichi, Hiroshima Prefecture. “There were games we lost because of my errors. You can’t make mistakes in the outfield. I would like to play with more spirit.”
The Yokohama BayStars’ Masayuki Kuwahara was the other CL outfielder.
BayStars first baseman Jose Lopez easily outpaced his former Giants teammate Shinnosuke Abe by a margin of 226-9, for his second consecutive, and third overall, Golden Glove.
The Yomiuri battery was honored for the first time since 2002, with pitcher Tomoyuki Sugano and catcher Seiji Kobayashi each winning.
The award was a first for Kobayashi.
“This is something I’ve been aiming for, so I’m very honored,” he said in a statement released by the team.
Sugano, also this season’s Sawamura Award winner, captured his second straight Golden Glove.
“I’m extremely happy I was graded like this for the second year in a row,” Sugano said in a team-issued statement. “I would like to play at a higher level in all aspects so I will continue to win it next year and in the future.”
Hanshin Tigers star Takashi Toritani capped his first season as a full-time third baseman with his first Golden Glove at the position. Toritani won five Golden Gloves as a shortstop and is the sixth CL player to win at multiple positions and fourth to do it as a shortstop and third baseman.
Giants shortstop Hayato Sakamoto earned the honor for the second straight year in the CL.
2017 Golden Glove winners
P Tomoyuki Sugano (Yomiuri Giants)
C Seiji Kobayashi (Yomiuri Giants)
1B Jose Lopez (Yokohama DeNa BayStars)
2B Ryosuke Kikuchi (Hiroshima Toyo Carp)
3B Takashi Toritani (Hanshin Tigers)
SS Hayato Sakamoto (Yomiuri Giants)
OF Yoshihiro Maru (Hiroshima Carp)
OF Seiya Suzuki (Hiroshima Carp)
OF Masayuki Kuwahara (Yokohama DeNA BayStars)
P Yusei Kikuchi (Saitama Seibu Lions)
C Takuya Kai (Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks)
1B Ginji Akaminai (Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles)
2B Daichi Suzuki (Chiba Lotte Marines)
3B Nobuhiro Matsuda (Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks)
SS Kenta Imamiya (Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks)
OF Shogo Akiyama (Saitama Seibu Lions)
OF Yuki Yanagita (Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks)
OF Haruki Nishikawa (Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters)