TOKYO, Dec. 20, Kyodo
Shohei Otani was named the winner of the grand prize at the Japan Pro Sports Awards on Tuesday after the slugging flame-thrower’s stellar year helped the Nippon Ham Fighters win their first Japan Series in a decade.
Otani went 10-4 with a 1.86 ERA on the mound while rewriting the fastest-pitch record in Japan with a 165 kilometer-per-hour delivery, and also batted .322 with 22 home runs to win the Pacific League’s MVP.
“I’m honored to be selected from many great athletes,” Otani said at the ceremony. “I don’t know how much I’ve managed to contribute to professional sports, but I’ll keep giving my best.”
Otani, who on Tuesday was named in the roster for the World Baseball Classic next March, said he is practicing with the tournament’s official ball and is ready to help the team in whatever role he is asked to fill.
“It’s a stage I’ve always wanted to play on. I’ll work hard for the national team to help it once again win the gold medal,” Otani said. “I don’t know in which position the coach will decide to use me. I’ll do all I can if it’s in two.”
Outstanding Performance Awards went to Nippon Ham and to the Hiroshima Carp, which won its first Central League pennant in 25 years, while Fighters right-hander Hirotoshi Takanashi was named the outstanding new performer.