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Updated: November 26, 2013
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Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar
Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2013 by Marco Stoovelaar

Wladimir Balentien Most Valuable Player in Japan
TOKYO (Japan) - Dutch outfielder Wladimir Balentien has been voted Most Valuable Player of the Central League in Nippon Professional Baseball. Pitcher Masahiro Tanaka of champion Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles was named MVP of the Pacific League. The winners of the annual awards in Japanese professional baseball were announced on Tuesday (November 26).

...Wladimir Balentien during the WBC...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
This season, Curaçao-born Wladimir Balentien, playing for Yakult Swallows, broke the all-time single-season homerun-record, set in 1964 by legendary Sadaharu Oh, who then hit 55 homeruns. On September 15, Balentien hit his 56th and 57th homerun to set a new record. The 29-year old outfielder finished the season with 60 homeruns.

Balentien wrote history, by becoming the first player to be named MVP in the Central League, while playing for a team which finished in last place.

Balentien received 200 of the 275 possible votes (273 were valid) for first place in the Most Valuable Player-category. He also got 38 votes for second place and 21 for third place, to finish with a total with a total of 1135 points, well ahead of Shuichi Murata (Yomiuri Giants), who got 419 points. A first place votes is translated into five points, while a second place vote earns a player three points and a third place vote is good for one point.

Masahiro Tanaka got all 233 first place votes (out of 234; one was not valid) to finish with a total of 1165 points to become the MVP in the Pacific League. So, the pitcher was an unanimous winner, finishing well ahead of Yuya Hasegawa (Softbank Hawks), who got 106 points. Dutch outfielder Andruw Jones, who was a teammate of Tanaka this season with the Golden Eagles, finished in seventh place in the MVP-voting in the Pacific League. Jones got 14 second place votes and six third place votes to get a total of 48 points. Seven players of the Golden Eagles finished in the top-10 of the MVP-voting.

Balentien batted .330 (145-for-439) this season in 130 games with 17 doubles, 60 homeruns and 131 runs batted in, while scoring 94 runs.
Tanaka remained unbeaten for the Eagles, going 24-0 in 28 games and also earned a save, while finishing with an 1.27 ERA and 183 strikeouts in 212 innings pitched. Tanaka became the first player since 1965 and third overall to get all first place-votes for MVP. In 1959, Tadashi Sugiura was the first, Katsuya Nomura was the second in 1965.

Besides being named MVP, Balentien also was elected in the Central League's All Star Team (Best Nine) as one of the outfielders. Balentien also got trophies for finishing in first place in Homeruns and On Base Percentage.

For their accomplishments, Balentien and Tanaka also won the Special Commissioner Award.

Yasuhiro Ogawa (Yakult Swallows) was named Rookie of the Year in the Central League, while Tatsunori Hara (Yomiuri Giants) was named Best Manager.
In the Pacific League, Takahiro Norimoto (Golden Eagles) won the Rookie of the Year Award and was Senichi Hoshino (Golden Eagles) the Best Manager of the 2013 season.

(November 26)

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