Yomiuri Giants ace Tomoyuki Sugano was named winner of the prestigious Eiji Sawamura Award on Monday for the second straight year.
The 29-year-old is the first pitcher to win the award in consecutive seasons since former Giants ace and Hall of Fame inductee Masaki Saito was honored in 1995 and 1996.
“I was aiming to win it and I got it as declared. The sense of accomplishment is much more special than last year,” Sugano said. “I will aim for it next year, too. I want to get better and better.”
The honor, named for the hard-throwing Yomiuri right-hander who was one of the early stars of Japanese professional baseball, recognizes the most impressive starting pitcher in Nippon Professional Baseball.
The Sawamura selection panel uses certain criteria to evaluate candidates, including 25 games started, 10 complete games, 15 wins, .600 winning percentage, 200 innings pitched, 150 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.50 or lower.
Sugano was unanimously chosen by the five-person selection committee after meeting seven of the benchmarks, with 28 starts, 10 complete games, 15 wins, a .652 winning percentage, 202 innings pitched, 200 strikeouts and a 2.14 ERA.
“I was thinking that the biggest challenge was pitching 10 complete games, so I’m happy to have gotten it in my last start,” said Sugano, who was also named the league’s pitcher of the month for September and October.
“It was an easy choice this year,” said Hall-of-Famer Tsuneo Horiuchi, the head of the selection panel. “It’s amazing that he was able to clear 10 complete games in today’s baseball world.”