NPB announced the fan vote all stars for the 2016 NPB Series on Monday evening. Four Saitama Seibu Lions became all stars as a result.
For those unfamiliar, fans get to vote each position for the NPB All-Star series. This includes closer, relief pitchers and starting pitcher, something that MLB doesn't offer. (Though they have the right to vote for all position players).
OF Shogo Akiyama, C Ginjiro Sumitani, RP Kazuhisa Makita and 2B Hideto Asamura were fan votes among the Lions players at their respective positions. In a strange scenario, both Asamura and Makita are injured at the time of receiving their all star status.
Sumitani continues to have solid defense behind the plate, but is still a hole offensively. Asamura had a strong month of May, but there are questions about him being consistent or not.
Akiyama and Makita were shoo-ins the moment the All-star ballot came out. The Lions bullpen wouldn't be good without Makita while Akiyama has remained a solid leadoff hitter with an on-base percentage well above .400.
Interestingly enough, Ernesto Mejia couldn't earn the fan vote as Sho Nakata of the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters got in through name recognition. Brandon Laird also came up short as Nobuhiro Matsuda (Fukuoka Softbank Hawks) was the 3B representative. Game 1 is on July 15 in Fukuoka and Game 2 is on July 16 in Yokohama.
The full all-star rosters will be announced later and we'll have a full reaction to this when it comes.
Here is the complete list of All-Stars who are in through the fan vote:
SP: Shohei Otani (Fighters)
RP: Kazuhisa Makita (Lions)
CL: Dennis Sarfate (Hawks)
C: Ginjiro Sumitani (Lions)
1B: Sho Nakata (Fighters)
2B: Hideto Asamura (Lions)
3B: Nobuhiro Matsuda (Hawks)
SS: Kenta Imamiya (Hawks)
OF: Yuki Yanagita (Hawks), Shogo Akiyama (Lions), Yoshio Itoi (Orix Buffaloes)
DH: Yuya Hasegawa (Hawks)
SP: Tomoyuki Sugano (Yomiuri Giants)
RP: Shinji Tajima (Chunichi Dragons)
CL: Yasuaki Yamasaki (Yokohama DeNA Baystars)
C: Yuhei Nakamura (Tokyo Yakult Swallows)
1B: Takahiro Arai (Hiroshima Toyo Carp)
2B: Tetsuto Yamada (Swallows)
3B: Shingo Kawabata (Swallows)
SS: Hayato Sakamoto (Giants)
OF: Yoshitomo Tsutsugo (Baystars), Yoshihiro Maru (Carp), Shun Takayama (Hanshin Tigers)
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