MLB hopeful Seiya Suzuki was honored for his defensive skills once again in the Central League, while Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Yuma Mune ended the Orix Buffaloes’ drought in the Pacific League as this year’s Mitsui Golden Glove Award winners were announced on Thursday afternoon.
This is the 50th edition of the Mitsui Golden Glove Award, which honors Japan’s top defensive players.
Suzuki, an All-Star outfielder for the Hiroshima Carp, won for the third straight year and for the fifth time overall.
“Defense, baserunning and hitting are all really important, so I’m honored to win a great award like the Golden Glove Award,” he said in comments released by the team.
Suzuki is hoping to make way for someone else next year. The Carp star is seeking an MLB contract for the 2022 season after Hiroshima approved his request to be posted late last month — though the MLB lockout, which came into effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday morning, will hinder his negotiations with teams.
The Carp’s Ryosuke Kikuchi made it 9-for-9 at second base since first winning the award in 2013. The dynamic infielder won easily with 173 votes, as runner-up Tetsuto Yamada, of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, garnered 81.
Kikuchi broke a tie with former Seibu Lions infielder, and the club’s current manager, Hatsuhiko Tsuji, for the most Golden Gloves at the position in either league.
“I’m going to do my best to chase the ball so I can win it again next year,” he said.
The Chunichi Dragons led all CL teams with three Golden Glove selections with outfielder Yohei Oshima leading the way with his fourth straight and ninth overall.
First baseman Dayan Viciedo earned his second Golden Glove in as many seasons to become the first foreign Dragons player, at any position, to repeat as a winner.
Yuya Yanagi, meanwhile, is the first Chunichi pitcher to win since reliever Takuya Asao in 2011.
Shortstop Hayato Sakamoto and third baseman Kazuma Okamoto represented the Yomiuri Giants. Sakamoto won for the third straight year and fifth time overall, while Okamoto was one of the CL’s three first-time winners.
The other first-timers were Yanagi and Hanshin Tigers outfielder Koji Chikamoto.
Swallows catcher Yuhei Nakamura was the lone member of the CL and Japan Series champions to be honored. Nakamura, MVP of the recently completed Japan Series, won for the first time since 2015.
The DeNA BayStars did not have anyone named for the second straight season.
The Buffaloes went four seasons without a Golden Glove winner in the PL since outfielder Yoshio Itoi in 2016. That drought ended this year with Yamamoto winning at pitcher and Mune taking home the award at third base.
“I’m very honored to have been chosen for an award that everyone wants to win and one I’ve been aware of since middle school,” Yamamoto said in comments released by the team.
Both players are first-time winners, along with Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles outfielder Ryosuke Tatsumi.
Mune ended an even longer drought for Orix, becoming the franchise’s first Golden Glove third baseman since Toshifumi Baba won for the Orix BlueWave in 1996.
“I’m honored to win a special award with such a long history,” Mune said. “I know my ability is still lacking, so I want to improve defensively and win it again next year.
The Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks led the way with three selections in the Pa. League, as catcher Takuya Kai extended his reign to a fifth-straight season. Kai was behind the plate in all 143 games and finished the season with a .999 fielding percentage.
Hawks first baseman Akira Nakamura and outfielder Yuki Yanagita each won their second straight. Yanagita has won six overall.
The Chiba Lotte Marines had a pair of winners in outfielder Takashi Ogino, who won for the second time and second baseman Shogo Nakamura, who also won for the second time.
Seibu Lions shortstop Sosuke Genda won for the fourth straight year at his position.
The Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters did not have any players chosen.
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