Here are the additions to the NPB All-Star Series with the choices coming from Fukuoka Softbank Hawks manager Kimiyasu Kudo. For pitchers, we will post the statline of (Wins - Losses), ERA/FIP/WHIP. For position players, we will post the statline of BA/OBP/SLG. Stats will be based on the completion of games after July 5.
We will also include a quote from each player in reaction to being selected as an All-Star. Translations courtesy of @Maple_Ash
Lastly, Wes and Christian speak their thoughts on all four players getting in.
Ken Togame: (7-3), 2.54/4.15/1.21
(No quote about being selected)
Tatsushi Masuda: (2-3), 2.97/1.38/1.15, 27 Holds
"Players were chosen in first order. To be playing professional baseball and participate in the All-Star game, that was my dream. I'm strange to a bunch of other strangers, so I hope to be friends with the other Lions players."
Tomomi Takahashi: (1-1), 1.99/3.09/0.99, 4 Holds, 20 Saves
(We're also going to assume there's a joking laughing matter in this)
"[Kudo] entrusts me to be the closer with [Rakuten Eagles closer Yuki] Matsui. I want to learn my name because my face is characteristic."
C Ginjiro Sumitani: .192/.233/.231
"Lots of Lions players are participating in the All-Star Game. I want to work so that fans can admire me."
Togame deserves recognition for a solid early campaign, but with some of his numbers disagreeing, maybe this is a sign of being a little lucky. His FIP is inflated mostly because he walks a good amount and he gives up a lot of solo home runs which is the one area that FIP punishes pitchers.
His WHIP shows that he's keeping his hits to a low level which could either be the fantastic work of the Lions defense, luck, or a combination of both. It would be interesting to see a further study into Togame's season when it comes to whether or not he's producing a good level of weak contact or not.
The back end of the bullpen deserves a whole lot of credit for what they've done this season. They've really been a reliable tandem and with Japanese pundits slobbering over the good amount of saves from Takahashi, I look the other way and smile at how clean those two have been this season.
They don't walk really anyone and they don't give up the long ball. That's all you can ask for when it comes to relievers. FIP really rewards Masuda for the amount of strikeouts and not giving up a single home run this season.
Takahashi would be in similar FIP territory if his strikeout numbers were more like his ones in previous years but in this case, its his set up man who's besting him there. We have to expect his WHIP to go up a little bit but you have to wonder if his strikeout numbers will make a return as well, something has to give for Takahashi. Both are well deserving of this honor, though not for the reasons many Japanese pundits will point to (like saves and holds).
Sumitani has been a hole behind home plate with his bat, but the current All-Star team has shown guys who have elite defense can qualify for the All-Star Series. Fans voted in Softbank's Kenta Imamiya as the Pacific League's shortstop as he is known for his gold glove on the infield.
"Gin-Chan" has been reliable behind the plate, keeping passed balls down to a minimum with only a handful of wild pitches allowed. He is best at throwing guys out to second base and his arm is a weapon in itself. Better yet, he is effective at blocking the plate in crunch time as shown on several plays at home. Kudo wanted his defense for the series and it wouldn't be surprising if he starts one of the two games. Motohiro Shima of Rakuten was voted in by the fans, but he is battling an injury and is most likely out. Someone else should be his replacement for one of the games while Sumitani takes the other.
With eight all stars in total, we're happy that both Takahashi and Masuda were included to the team. We were guessing that at least one starter would get in and Togame ended up getting the nod, beating out Ryoma Nogami and Kazuhisa Makita.
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