One long reign continued while another came to an end at the 49th edition of the Mitsui Golden Glove Awards.
The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks led all teams with four players selected as the top defensive specialists at their position when the winners were announced at a Tokyo hotel on Friday afternoon.
Ryosuke Kikuchi, the Hiroshima Carp's dynamic second baseman, led all players with 283 votes and won the Mitsui Golden Glove in the Central League for the eighth straight year after a historic season in the Carp infield.
"This is my eighth time to win and each time I've just been so happy to win," Kikuchi said. “I kind of feel like I have a responsibility to get it again next year."
Kikuchi played 106 games and finished with a 1.000 fielding percentage in 503 chances. He became the first NPB second baseman to complete a season without an error.
"The Carp's Kikuchi managed to play without committing an error and that's going to be my goal for next season," said the Seibu Lions’ Sosuke Genda, who was the Pacific League winner at shortstop.
The PL champion Hawks, who won their fourth straight Japan Series title last month, also had four players win in 2019.
The Hawks' battery of Kodai Senga and Takuya Kai won in the PL for the second straight season. Senga, the team's ace pitcher, won his second straight Golden Glove while Kai, the leading overall vote-getter in the PL with 267 (only two other players got votes at catcher) made it four straight.
"He has a small body, but his presence is really huge," SoftBank’s Akira Nakamura said.
Hawks outfielder Yuki Yanagita won his fifth Golden Glove while Nakamura was a first-time winner at first base. Nakamura shared the honor with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters' Sho Nakata after they finished tied with 77 votes. Nakata won for the fourth time overall.
"I'm really happy to win this award for the first time," Nakamura said.
Nakamura had spent most of his time in the outfield before the 2020 campaign.
"I'm really an outfielder, but I played a lot of first base this year," he said. "I'm really happy I was rated highly.”
SoftBank third baseman Nobuhiro Matsuda had been aiming for an eighth straight Golden Glove at the hot corner in the PL, but finished behind the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles' Daichi Suzuki, who received 141 votes to Matsuda’s 88.
Suzuki, who also won as a second baseman for the Chiba Lotte Marines in 2017, is the first Rakuten player to win at third base. He's the 10th PL player to win a Golden Glove at multiple positions.
Seibu Lions second baseman Shuta Tonosaki was a first-time winner at second base, while Genda extended his streak to three straight at shortstop.
A pair of Fighters joined Yanagita in the PL outfield, with Haruki Nishikawa, currently attempting to move to MLB via the posting system, and first-timer Taishi Ota each winning. Nishikawa won for the fourth straight season.
"I want to contribute all I can to the team next year and receive this award again," Ota said.
In the CL, Yomiuri Giants pitcher Tomoyuki Sugano, another player attempting a move to MLB, won his fourth Golden Glove.
The Hanshin Tigers’ Ryutaro Umeno earned his third straight in the CL at catcher.
At first base, Dayan Viciedo was the league's only first-time winner and teammate Shuhei Takahashi won for the second straight year at third base.
There was another Dragons player in the outfield, with Yuhei Oshima winning for the third straight year and eighth time overall.
The Carp's Seiya Suzuki and the Tokyo Yakult Swallows' Norichika Aoki were also honored in the CL outfield. The Giants' Hayato Sakamoto earned the Golden Glove at shortstop.
There were four first-time winners overall this year. The Yokohama DeNA BayStars and Chiba Lotte Marines were the only teams without a recipient.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.