|If you can read Japanese, you can just read this and react|
I tend to vote based on who I believe is the best, regardless of team. My opinion of players is usually based on some flashy stat that tries to go beyond hitting for average. There's plenty of passive votes included, but like anything, didn't want any team loyalty or factor to decide who is in.
For Pacific League votes, click here.
Here is my ballot for the 2016 All Star Series in the Central League:
Stats are reflective of games that concluded after 6/12.
For pitchers, I'll show (W-L) / ERA / WHIP
For hitters, the slashline will be BA / OBP / SLG
Tomoyuki Sugano (Yomiuri Giants): (5-2) / 0.75 / 0.812
Sugano is an ace and there's no doubt he's been the best starter among the Central League. What really stands out is not only his ERA being under 1.00, but the WHIP being below 0.90. His strikeout/walk ratio is also 6.85, which is ridiculous in its own right.
Shinji Tajima (Yomiuri Giants): (2-1) / 0.56 / 1.082 / 14 Holds, 3 Saves
Tajima went 31 innings without allowing a run to start the 2016 NPB Season. That's a Central League record from Opening Day and he also tied a club record as a result. I personally liked him the moment he was their closer in the second half of last year, but he had such an amazing run that the team made Tajima their closer over Koji Fukutani. He also has a decent strikeout clip of 8.4 K per nine innings.
Yasuaki Yamasaki (Yokohama DeNA Baystars): (1-2) / 1.48 / 1.192 / 16 Saves, 4 Holds
Closers have been an issue around the league and everyone has had their moments, including Yamsaki. However, after a slow start in what looked like a sophomore slump, Yamasaki has picked it up since May. He also has a better strikeout clip of 8.1 K/9 than Hirokazu Sawamura, which will draw my vote. Fun side fact is he also uses Kernkraft 400 as his walkup song and the crowd will even sing it in Acapella when on the road chanting his name.
Yasutaka Tobashira (Yokohama DeNA Baystars): .236/.277/.281
For a rookie coming straight out of an industrial league, I'm rather impressed that manager Alex Ramirez has started him immediately and he has done a decent job behind the plate. I will confess that I don't watch central league catchers a whole lot and won't know their defense from film study, but I think it's intriguing that a rookie has become an everyday starter for the Baystars.
Fumihito Harguchi of the Hanshin Tigers is the other name that stands out, but I was unable to write his name in on the ballot. His sample size is a little too small after having a hot month of May, but he has been solid at hitting after being a recently promoted ikusei player.
Dayan Viciedo (Chunichi Dragons): .284/.371/.538
Viciedo has cooled off after a strong April, but I still like the pop he has at first base. With Brad Eldred moving to the outfield, pop is a higher priority for me at that position. He still 16 home runs at the time of this writing and has given a pulse to what has been viewed as a "last place" Dragons team. Takahiro Arai of the Hiroshima Carp has also stood out, but home runs are better than hitting for average in my opinion at this area.
Tetsuto Yamada (Tokyo Yakult Swallows): .324/.433/.656
With Yamada having an OPS well over 1.000, that's an easy qualification to get my vote. Last year, I had him over Ryosuke Kikuchi, but of course Kikuchi won the fan vote due to one of the games being in Hiroshima.
This time, Yamada's historic season from last year is still carrying over to 2016. He's on pace for a "Triple-3" season of batting .300 with 30 HRs and 30 stolen bases. It's possible that stealing bases is the hardest department, but with him able to do all three, there's no doubt he's the best player in the Central League. He also leads the league in home runs with 20.
Shuichi Murata (Yomiuri Giants): .308/.357/.448
Murata is having a revival season after coming off some down seasons in the past. He doesn't have the home run totals that he used to have, but I like the doubles he has (16) with an OPS still above .800. Shingo Kawabata is the easier pick as he is known to hit for average, but I think Murata is having a better season among the two.
Hayato Sakamoto (Yomiuri Giants): .332/.422/.607
Sakamoto is having a strong season and there's no denying he's already good defensively. For a shortstop to having 13 home runs and even more doubles is a bonus. Like Yamada, he has an OPS over 1.000, making it the easiest vote of all infielders.
Toshitomo Tsutsugo (Baystars): .311/.429/.595
Brad Eldred (Hiroshima Carp): .323/.384/.574
Yohei Oshima (Dragons): .300/.374/.416
Eldred was leading the league at one point in batting average. He still has an impressive amount of pop (15 home runs) to go with 11 doubles. Tsutsugo will easily win the fan vote with one of the games behind in Yokohama and he still has the home runs thanks to an inflated park. He's still hitting .300 as well which is a bonus.
Oshima is the more outside the box pick. Personally, I like speed and he has done everything right for a leadoff hitter. He only has nine stolen bases, but he gets on base more than his teammate Ricardo Nanita, who was also a candidate with his high average. Yoshihiro Maru of the Carp is also a close candidate with better pop, but I think Oshima gets overlooked and is worth my vote.
For those of you who couldn't read the top page, here's how my ballot looks in English with romanized names. Feel free to disagree or suggest who might've been missed.
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