2009 Central League All-Star Voting

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The results from the first two stages of All-Star voting have been announced, but how many of Tokyo’s players were deemed worthy?

Well, one more than last year.  And Swallows players certainly featured more prominently in the top five vote-getter lists than last year. And so they should given the excellent start they’ve made to this season.

The first two stages of voting are the usual fan votes, which determine the starters in each position for the opening game, and this year for the second time,  player votes. Players from both the top and farm teams got to select another player for each position.

So first let’s have a look at how the fans voted:

Starting Pitcher: (2008 : Ken Takahashi/HTC)

Shohei Tateyama came in third here with 133,887 votes. He was behind two Carps, Kenta Maeda with 155,001 and Kan Ohtake who won at a canter with a substantial 255,789 votes.

While one can’t really argue with the pick of Ohtake given the excellent start he’s had, I’d still say Shohei was a more worthy starter due to his 8 and 1 start to the season, and remarkable lossless run he went on from August 2008 to June 2009. But them Carp fans sure do vote in numbers to support their team for these kind of things (see the rather average Ken Takahashi winning last year’s vote for evidence of this).

Middle Relief: (2008: Tomoyuki Kubota/HT)

Ryota Igarashi polled second in this category with 245,589 votes. He was beaten by Yomiuri man Yamaguchi who recieved 300,389. Igarashi was the only correct answer in this category, though. So it’s a big fail for the voting public here. Then again, they are all Yomiuri fans and have thus failed at the game of life anyway.

Closer: (2008: Kyuji Fujikawa/HT)

Lim Chang-Yong came in at No.4 last year (his first year in Japan). This year, like last year with Fujikawa, Lim was the only possible choice, given he’s still to give up an earned run in 2009. He polled 299,835 votes, some 30,000 ahead of second placed Carp Nagakawa.

The injury and poor form blighted Fujikawa came in 3rd, with Yomiuri annoyance Marc Kroon coming in 4th with just over half of the votes managed by Lim. And thank fook for that as that means we won’t have to put up with his crookedy-wookedy cap and sky-pointing/second-rate K-Rod antics for an extra game this year.

Catcher: (2008: Shinnosuke Abe/YG)

Hiroshima’s Yoshiyuki Ishihara won this catagory with 358,290 votes which is the first case of Hiroshima red-tinted glasses in effect on this list. No matter how good a catcher he is, a man who is currently batting sub .200 shouldn’t be anywhere near this list. It’s like if all the Yakult fans voted for Fukukawa or Kawamoto last year, there’s loyalty and then there’s common sense. Last year’s piggy-faced selection Abe came in second as his orange piggy disciples didn’t quite come through for him this year.

Last year there was no Yakult representation in the top 5 catchers but this year Ryoji Aikawa came in third place with 184,020. And well deserved votes they were too, as he’s been a key man in  Tokyo’s rise this season since he made the short trip from Yokohama.

1st Base: (2008: Takahiro Arai/HT)

Another Hiroshima winner here with Kenta Kurihara getting a whopping 441,840 votes. Another case of those red-tinted glasses at work again there. Seung-Yeop Lee came in 2nd some 240,000 votes behind, with Jamie D’Antona coming in 5th with a respectable enough 137,887 votes. Chunichi’s “Tyrone Woods? Who’s he again?” Tony Blanco came in 4th.

2nd Base: (2008: Akihiro Higashide/HTC)

Hiroyasu Tanaka made No.4 for the second straight year with 167,315. No.1 was a repeat for Hiroshima’s Higashide with 362,055 votes, And unlike some of the other Carp choices, it can’t be said to be not deserved as the man is quality, though he’s not having quite the year he had last year.

3rd Base: (2008: Shuichi Murata/YB)

Tokyo’s team captain Shinya Miyamoto came in 3rd here gandering 190,780 votes. He fell some 120,000 votes behind the winner, Yomiuri’s Ogasawara. Murata came in second.

Shortstop: (2008: Hayato Sakamoto/YG)

No suprise here with Sakamoto taking it for the second year in a row, this year much more deserved than last with him currently batting around the .350 mark. He’s been skin-crawlingly-annoyingly good this year. Tokyo’s own Keizo Kawashima came in 3rd some 125,000 votes behind Sakamoto.

Outfielders: (2008: Norichika Aoki/TYS, Tomonori Maeda/HC, Tomoaki Kanemoto/HT)

Only one Yakult representative here, but as last year, it was the one that matters, Norichika Aoki pulling in a whopping 411,602 votes to take the No.1 position. This was the second highest vote haul of any CL player (after Kurihara), and in fact the 3rd highest across both leagues, behind Swallows oldboy and current Fighter Atsunori Inaba who polled 498,393 (he polled the most votes in the NPB last year too).

With Aoki not having the best of years so far, this is undoubtedly a “reputation” pick, and his stellar WBC in which he was selected to the tournament’s best 9 didn’t hurt either.

The No.2 and No.3 picks were Hiroshima’s Akamatsu and Yokohama’s Uchikawa, the latter of which also undoubtedly got a post WBC boost too.

Tigers golden-boy Kanemoto came in 4th, which just goes to show how pissed off Hanshin fans are given their shitty season so far.

So, from fan voting, Aoki and Lim are the two Tokyo representatives in the CL lineup:

    Ohtake HC

SP: Ohtake (HTC)

Yamaguchi YG

MR: Yamaguchi (YG)

    Lim TYS

Clo: Lim (TYS)

    Ishihara HC

C: Ishihara (HTC)

    Kurihara HC

1B: Kurihara (HTC)

    Higashide 09 HC

2B: Higashide (HTC)

    Evil Ogasawara YG

3B: Ogasawara (YG)

SS: Sakamoto (YG)

    Aoki TYS

OF: Aoki (TYS)

    Akamatsu HC

OF: Akamatsu (HTC)

    Uchikawa YBS

OF: Uchikawa (YBS)

A few things about the fan-vote results :

  • Carp fans vote. In huge numbers. Last year a couple of the Carp starting picks were dubious and this year is no exception. The Carp have the most representatives in the starting lineup with five. Of those, at least two are suspect to say the least. But with this being the first year in their new stadium, and with attendances being sky-high, you can’t begrudge them getting carried away a little.
  • This is the first time in eight years that no Hanshin players made the list. Either a sign that Hanshin fans are pissed, or a sign of their fair weather nature (i.e. a lot of the fans that jumped on the Tigers bandwagon since their revival in 2004 have moved on to other pastures now that Hanshin have, if only temporarily, regressed to their traditional B-class status).
  • For the second year in a row, no Chunichi players made the list. And they’re having an okay season. Proof that the Dragons are the least interesting/most anonymous organisation in the CL, or that their fans are the most apathetic?

From the voting figures it seems that Yakult have around 100,000 fans. Look at how many votes their players drew:

Tateymama: 133,887

Igarashi: 245,589

Lim: 299,835

Aikawa: 184,020

D’Antona: 137,887

Tanaka: 167,315

Miyamoto: 189,780

Keizo: 196,142

Aoki: 411,602

Fukuchi: 182,777

Obviously, the players who have a wider profile in the Japanese game, from either just being among the best at what they do (Aoki, Lim) or just plain popular (Igarashi, though he belongs in the former group this season too) have substantially more than the rest.

But look at the figure for Tateyama, who is arguably the finest starter in the CL so far this year. His tally of  just around 130,000, makes me think that’s the Swallows hardcore right there. 130,000 of us. The same can be said of D’Antona’s tally. All the other players attract a few non-Swallows fan fotes to raise their tally a little. Miyamoto, because of his veteran status and the fact he was once Team Japan captain. Keizo gets a few votes from the Hokkiado faithful. etc., etc., but you get the picture. Not to mention the fact that people can and do vote more than once.

It’s all just 100% conjecture anyway, but I thought it was interesting nonetheless.

Now for the player voting, which adds up to another 9 players to the All-Star roster (only one space for pitcher for the players). The additional picks are:

P: Ohtake (HTC)*    (2008: Lewis/HTC)

C: Abe (YG)     (2008: Abe/YG)

1B: Blanco (CD)     (2008: Woods/CD)

2B: Araki (CD)     (2008: Araki/CD)

3B: Ogasawara (YG)*    (2008: Murata/YB)

SS: Sakamoto (YG)*    (2008: Ibata/CD)

OF: Kanemoto (HT) OF: Aoki (TYS)* OF: Ramirez (YG) (The same 3 as 2008)

As you can see, 4 of the players’ picks had already been selected by the fans (marked with a *), so they only effectively added 5 players to the roster.As in 2008 it was up to the players picks to make sure Chunichi were well represented. Blanco in particular is well deserving given his excellent performances in 2009.

The only other Swallows players bothering this list were Tateyama and Lim, who came 2nd and 3rd for the players’ pitcher choice, and Aikawa who came a distant 2nd to Abe in the catcher’s category.

So with the first two stages over, all we are waiting for now is for the manager’s picks, which will see the final roster positions. This is where sense will prevail and I fully expect to see Tateyama, Igarashi, Matsuoka and Miyamoto added to the roster.  Hopefully Guiel may also make it there too.

Just for the record, my CL AllStar lineup would be something like:

SP: Tateyama (TYS)

MR: Igarashi (TYS)

Clo: Lim (TYS)

C: Aikawa (TYS)

1B: Blanco (CD)

2B: Higashide (HTC)

3B: Miyamoto (TYS)

SS: Sakamoto (YG)

OF: Aoki (TYS)

OF: Uchikawa (YBS)

OF: Kanemoto (HT)

What? Biased? Me? That’s one shit-hot team even if I do say so myself. Viva la Tokyo revolucion!

About David Watkins

David is a baseball bothering Brummie who spends a fair portion of his life fretting over the Tokyo Swallows and the WORLD'S GREATEST FOOTBALL TEAM, Aston Villa. He completes the quartet of abusive sporting relationships by being a die hard New York Knicks and Mets fan. You can find him on twitter: @yakulto

  • I’d have given Yokohama the “least interesting/most anonymous organisation in the CL” award, despite the sucking, which would normally add interest.

    I voted twice this year. At the same time, in the same place. I imagine some Carp fans are doing the same. I wonder if the Carp promote voting in any real way. The Swallows put a brief notice on the scoreboard between innings, but don’t do much else. I wouldn’t have voted except that I happened to be at Pia trying to get All-Star Game tix and the ballots were right there in front of me. I will confess that I voted straight Tokyo both times. (What’s the point of team sports without outright chauvinism? Why is Keizo a better shortstop than Sakamoto? Easy; because he plays for Tokyo and Sakamoto plays for Yomiuri, which makes him blow reagrdless of what his outstanding performance would lead you to believe.)

    All of that said, come on, Carp fans! Give us a f#@’*! break! Ishihara? Have you seen your catcher play? Do you know how expensive ASG tickets are? Which leads me to the organizers. . .

  • Rob

    Wait, wait – we WANT Swallows to be left out of the All-Star Game entirely, so they will be both mad as hell at being left out, and well-rested for the second half when they punish the rest of the league for the slight!

    One quibble – Giabbit’s Yamaguchi is the middle reliever, not the Yamaguchi for the other team TYS can’t beat.

    • Ah, my oversight on the Yamaguchis. It did seem random, even for a fan vote!! Post corrected, thank you!

      Of course, the less Tokyo men the better as they could do with the rest. But I also like to see them get some shine, as pointless as the whole All-Star thing is in the greater scheme of things.

      • Rob, you’re way too smart for this.

        We want Tokyo men in the All-Star series like a squirrel stores nuts.

        Wait, no. There’s a point to storing nuts.

        We want Tokyo men in the All-Star series like killer whales toss seals around and leave their carcasses on the rocks. As soon as you start thinking about reasons, you start to undermine the whole foundation of the thing. Are the ASG kind of silly? Yes, of course, but is it something at which we just beat Yokohama? Yes!

        And if the Swallows there play well, we get more pointless bragging rights.

        Think about it hard enough and every game becomes kind of like golf – if the winner is the person who hits the ball least, then the real winners are the people who never go out to the golf course in the first place.

  • The Carp are TOTALLY promoting the All-Star game at the new stadium — the ballot tables are pretty much right there at every entrance to the stadium, but also with signs like “don’t forget that the all-star game is HERE this year, guys!” and so on. The fact that almost every game there has super-high attendance probably isn’t hurting either, though.

    • That makes sense, they certainly did vote alright.

      Looking forward to seeing the Stadium myself later this month.

      • You going down for the 7/17 – 7/19 series, Mr. Watkins?

        I’ll be down there for the All-Star Game, after a stop by Nagoya (I’ve never been tot he Nagoya Dome even though I’m in the Nagoya area 3 or 4 times a year), Nishinomiya (to see Tokyo pound Hanshin in Koshien, to which I’ve also never been), then it’s back up here and a week at Jingu before I head North, maybe hitting the Sapporo Dome and/or the attractively-named Kleenex Miyagi Stadium.

        The lifetime notches in my belt will be (barring calamity): 10 out of the 13 stadia in regular use, plus 3 smaller venues (Botchan, Kure, Sagamihara.)

      • I should be there for one or two games of that series.

        May also stop off to catch them against the Tigers at Koshien on the way back too but that’s as yet undecided.

  • If you catch them at Koshien on your way back, let me know – I’ll be there, already have my tickets in hand. Get yours soon, though – the front half of the ?????????? section is already sold out, at least for the last two games of the series.

  • The manager votes are in, and the final All-Star rosters have been announced.

    Tokyo players added to the roster by the managers:

    Pitchers: Yoshinori, Tateyama
    Catcher: Aikawa
    Infielder: Miyamoto

    So that’s a total of six on the final roster.