Nippon Professional Baseball Most Valuable Player Award

Sadaharu Oh standing wearing a Japan national baseball team uniform during the 2006 World Baseball Classic
Sadaharu Oh, nine-time winner—more wins than any other player

The Most Valuable Player (MVP) Award (最優秀選手, Saiyūshūsenshu) is an annual Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) award given to two outstanding players, one each for the Central League (CL) and Pacific League (PL).

Each league's award is voted on by national baseball writers.[1] Each voter selects three players: a first-place selection is given five points, a second-place selection three points, and a third-place selection one point. The award goes to the player who receives the most overall points.[2] The winners are announced every year in November during Nippon Professional Baseball's awards ceremony called NBP Awards.

The first recipient of the award was Eiji Sawamura.[3] The most recent winners, in 2020, are Tomoyuki Sugano, from the Central League, and Yuki Yanagita, from the Pacific League. In 1940, Victor Starffin became the first player to win the award consecutively and multiple times.[3] Eiji Sawamura and Kazuhisa Inao are the youngest players to receive the awards in 1937 and 1957, respectively, at the ages of 20.[4] In 1988, Hiromitsu Kadota became the oldest player to receive the award at the age of 40.[5]

Key

Position
players
RBIs Runs batted in
AVG Batting average
Pitchers Record Record of decisions (tie games are omitted)
Saves Number of saves[B]
ERA Earned run average
(#) Indicates number of times winning MVP Award (if multiple winner)
* Elected to the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame[6]

Winners

Japanese Baseball League (1937–1949)

Eiji Sawamaru in baseball hat and uniform, with his arm hanging down in front of him
Eiji Sawamura won the first Japanese Baseball League MVP award before NPB was formed in 1950.
Victor Starffin in baseball hat and uniform, looking at the viewer
Victor Starffin was the first player to win multiple MVP awards.
Tetsuharu Kawakami in baseball hat and uniform, holding a bat and in a batting stance in front of a stadium crowd
Tetsuharu Kawakami was one of only two players to win the award before and after the formation of NPB.
Season Player Team Position Selected statistics Notes
1937
(Spring)
Eiji Sawamura* Tokyo Kyojin Pitcher [7]
1937
(Fall)
Harris McGalliard Korakuen Eagles Catcher [8]
1938
(Spring)
Hisanori Karita* Tokyo Senators Second baseman [9]
1938
(Fall)
Haruyasu Nakajima* Tokyo Kyojin Outfielder [10]
1939 Victor Starffin* Tokyo Kyojin Pitcher [11]
1940 Victor Starffin* (2) Tokyo Kyojin Pitcher [11]
1941 Tetsuharu Kawakami* Tokyo Kyojin First baseman [12]
1942 Shigeru Mizuhara* Tokyo Kyojin Second baseman [13]
1943 Shosei Go* Tokyo Kyojin Outfielder [14]
1944 Tadashi Wakabayashi* Hanshin Baseball Club Pitcher [15]
1945 Season canceled[C]
1946 Kazuto Tsuruoka* Great Ring Infielder [16]
1947 Tadashi Wakabayashi* (2) Osaka Tigers Pitcher [15]
1948 Kazuto Tsuruoka* (2) Nankai Hawks Third baseman [16]
1949 Fumio Fujimura* Osaka Tigers Third baseman [17]

Nippon Professional Baseball (1950–present)

Michihiro Ogasawara is one of only two players to win the award in the Central and Pacific Leagues.
Masumi Kuwata, 1994 CL winner
Kei Igawa, 2003 CL winner
Kosuke Fukudome, 2006 CL winner
Season Player Team Position Selected statistics Notes
1950 Makoto Kozuru* Shochiku Robins Outfielder [18]
1951 Tetsuharu Kawakami* (2) Yomiuri Giants First baseman [12]
1952 Takehiko Bessho* Yomiuri Giants Pitcher
  • 1.94 earned run average
  • 37113 innings pitched
  • 33–13 record in 52 appearances (41 games started)
[19]
1953 Takumi Otomo Yomiuri Giants Pitcher [20]
1954 Shigeru Sugishita* Chunichi Dragons Pitcher [21]
1955 Tetsuharu Kawakami* (3) Yomiuri Giants First baseman [12]
1956 Takehiko Bessho* (2) Yomiuri Giants Pitcher [19]
1957 Wally Yonamine* Yomiuri Giants Outfielder [22]
1958 Motoshi Fujita* Yomiuri Giants Pitcher [23]
1959 Motoshi Fujita* (2) Yomiuri Giants Pitcher [23]
1960 Noboru Akiyama* Taiyo Whales Pitcher [24]
1961 Shigeo Nagashima* Yomiuri Giants Third baseman [25]
1962 Minoru Murayama* Osaka Tigers Pitcher [26]
1963 Shigeo Nagashima* (2) Yomiuri Giants Third baseman [25]
1964 Sadaharu Oh* Yomiuri Giants First baseman [27]
1965 Sadaharu Oh* (2) Yomiuri Giants First baseman [27]
1966 Shigeo Nagashima* (3) Yomiuri Giants Third baseman [25]
1967 Sadaharu Oh* (3) Yomiuri Giants First baseman [27]
1968 Shigeo Nagashima* (4) Yomiuri Giants Third baseman [25]
1969 Sadaharu Oh* (4) Yomiuri Giants First baseman [27]
1970 Sadaharu Oh* (5) Yomiuri Giants First baseman [27]
1971 Shigeo Nagashima* (5) Yomiuri Giants Third baseman [25]
1972 Tsuneo Horiuchi* Yomiuri Giants Pitcher [28]
1973 Sadaharu Oh* (6) Yomiuri Giants First baseman [27]
1974 Sadaharu Oh* (7) Yomiuri Giants First baseman [27]
1975 Koji Yamamoto* Hiroshima Toyo Carp Outfielder [29]
1976 Sadaharu Oh* (8) Yomiuri Giants First baseman [27]
1977 Sadaharu Oh* (9) Yomiuri Giants First baseman [27]
1978 Tsutomu Wakamatsu* Yakult Swallows Outfielder [30]
1979 Yutaka Enatsu Hiroshima Toyo Carp Relief pitcher [31]
1980 Koji Yamamoto* (2) Hiroshima Toyo Carp Outfielder [29]
1981 Suguru Egawa Yomiuri Giants Starting pitcher [32]
1982 Takayoshi Nakao Chunichi Dragons Catcher [33]
1983 Tatsunori Hara* Yomiuri Giants Third baseman [34]
1984 Sachio Kinugasa* Hiroshima Toyo Carp Infielder [35]
1985 Randy Bass Hanshin Tigers First baseman [36]
1986 Manabu Kitabeppu* Hiroshima Toyo Carp Starting pitcher [37]
1987 Kazuhiro Yamakura Yomiuri Giants Catcher [38]
1988 Genji Kaku Chunichi Dragons Relief pitcher [39]
1989 Warren Cromartie Yomiuri Giants Outfielder [40]
1990 Masaki Saito* Yomiuri Giants Starting pitcher [41]
1991 Shinji Sasaoka Hiroshima Toyo Carp Starting pitcher [42]
1992 Jack Howell Yakult Swallows Third baseman [43]
1993 Atsuya Furuta* Yakult Swallows Catcher [44][45]
1994 Masumi Kuwata Yomiuri Giants Starting pitcher [46]
1995 Tom O'Malley Yakult Swallows First baseman [47]
1996 Hideki Matsui* Yomiuri Giants Outfielder [48]
1997 Atsuya Furuta* (2) Yakult Swallows Catcher [44]
1998 Kazuhiro Sasaki* Yokohama BayStars Relief pitcher [49]
1999 Shigeki Noguchi Chunichi Dragons Starting pitcher [50]
2000 Hideki Matsui* (2) Yomiuri Giants Outfielder [48]
2001 Roberto Petagine Yakult Swallows First baseman [51]
2002 Hideki Matsui* (3) Yomiuri Giants Outfielder [48]
2003 Kei Igawa Hanshin Tigers Starting pitcher [52]
2004 Kenshin Kawakami Chunichi Dragons Starting pitcher [53]
2005 Tomoaki Kanemoto* Hanshin Tigers Outfielder [54]
2006 Kosuke Fukudome Chunichi Dragons Outfielder [55]
2007 Michihiro Ogasawara (2) Yomiuri Giants Third baseman [56]
2008 Alex Ramírez Yomiuri Giants Outfielder [57]
2009 Alex Ramírez (2) Yomiuri Giants Outfielder [57][58]
2010 Kazuhiro Wada Chunichi Dragons Outfielder [59]
2011 Takuya Asao Chunichi Dragons Relief pitcher [60][61]
2012 Shinnosuke Abe Yomiuri Giants Catcher [62]
2013 Wladimir Balentien Tokyo Yakult Swallows Outfielder [63]
2014 Tomoyuki Sugano Yomiuri Giants Starting pitcher [64]
2015 Tetsuto Yamada Tokyo Yakult Swallows Second baseman [65]
2016 Takahiro Arai Hiroshima Toyo Carp First baseman [66]
2017 Yoshihiro Maru Hiroshima Toyo Carp Outfielder [67]
2018 Yoshihiro Maru (2) Hiroshima Toyo Carp Outfielder [67]
2019 Hayato Sakamoto Yomiuri Giants Shortstop [68][69]
2020 Tomoyuki Sugano (2) Yomiuri Giants Pitcher
  • 14 wins
  • 1.97 ERA
  • 131 strikeouts
[70]
Hiromitsu Ochiai, two-time PL winner
Nobuhiko Matsunaka, two-time PL winner
Hideo Nomo, 1990 PL winner
Kenji Johjima, 2003 PL winner
Yu Darvish, 2007 PL winner
Season Player Team Position Selected statistics Notes
1950 Kaoru Betto* Mainichi Orions Outfielder [71]
1951 Kazuto Tsuruoka* (3) Nankai Hawks Second baseman [16]
1952 Susumu Yuki Nankai Hawks Pitcher [72]
1953 Isami Okamoto Nankai Hawks Second baseman [73]
1954 Hiroshi Oshita* Nishitetsu Lions Outfielder [74]
1955 Tokuji Iida* Nankai Hawks Outfielder [75]
1956 Futoshi Nakanishi* Nishitetsu Lions Third baseman [76]
1957 Kazuhisa Inao* Nishitetsu Lions Pitcher [77]
1958 Kazuhisa Inao* (2) Nishitetsu Lions Pitcher [77]
1959 Tadashi Sugiura* Nankai Hawks Pitcher [78]
1960 Kazuhiro Yamauchi* Daimai Orions Outfielder [79]
1961 Katsuya Nomura* Nankai Hawks Catcher [80]
1962 Isao Harimoto* Toei Flyers Outfielder [81]
1963 Katsuya Nomura* (2) Nankai Hawks Catcher [80]
1964 Joe Stanka Nankai Hawks Pitcher [82]
1965 Katsuya Nomura* (3) Nankai Hawks Catcher [80]
1966 Katsuya Nomura* (4) Nankai Hawks Catcher [80]
1967 Mitsuhiro Adachi Hankyu Braves Pitcher [83]
1968 Tetsuya Yoneda* Hankyu Braves Pitcher [84]
1969 Tokuji Nagaike Hankyu Braves Outfielder [85]
1970 Masaaki Kitaru Lotte Orions Pitcher [86]
1971 Tokuji Nagaike (2) Hankyu Braves Outfielder [85]
1972 Yutaka Fukumoto* Hankyu Braves Outfielder [87]
1973 Katsuya Nomura* (5) Nankai Hawks Catcher [80]
1974 Tomehiro Kaneda Lotte Orions Pitcher [88]
1975 Hideji Kato Hankyu Braves First baseman [89]
1976 Hisashi Yamada* Hankyu Braves Pitcher [90]
1977 Hisashi Yamada* (2) Hankyu Braves Pitcher [90]
1978 Hisashi Yamada* (3) Hankyu Braves Pitcher [90]
1979 Charlie Manuel Kintetsu Buffaloes Outfielder [91]
1980 Isamu Kida Nippon Ham Fighters Pitcher [92]
1981 Yutaka Enatsu (2) Nippon Ham Fighters Pitcher [31]
1982 Hiromitsu Ochiai* Lotte Orions Second baseman [93]
1983 Osamu Higashio* Seibu Lions Pitcher [94]
1984 Greg Wells Hankyu Braves First baseman [95]
1985 Hiromitsu Ochiai* (2) Lotte Orions Infielder [93]
1986 Hiromichi Ishige Seibu Lions Shortstop [96]
1987 Osamu Higashio* (2) Seibu Lions Starting pitcher [94]
1988 Hiromitsu Kadota* Nankai Hawks Outfielder [97]
1989 Ralph Bryant Kintetsu Buffaloes Outfielder [98]
1990 Hideo Nomo* Kintetsu Buffaloes Starting pitcher [99]
1991 Taigen Kaku Seibu Lions Starting pitcher [100]
1992 Takehiro Ishii Seibu Lions Pitcher [101]
1993 Kimiyasu Kudo* Seibu Lions Starting pitcher [102]
1994 Ichiro Suzuki Orix BlueWave Outfielder [103]
1995 Ichiro Suzuki (2) Orix BlueWave Outfielder [103]
1996 Ichiro Suzuki (3) Orix BlueWave Outfielder [103]
1997 Fumiya Nishiguchi Seibu Lions Pitcher [104]
1998 Kazuo Matsui Seibu Lions Shortstop [105]
1999 Kimiyasu Kudo* (2) Fukuoka Daiei Hawks Starting pitcher [102]
2000 Nobuhiko Matsunaka Fukuoka Daiei Hawks First baseman [106]
2001 Tuffy Rhodes Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes Outfielder [107]
2002 Alex Cabrera Seibu Lions First baseman [108]
2003 Kenji Johjima Fukuoka Daiei Hawks Catcher [109]
2004 Nobuhiko Matsunaka (2) Fukuoka Daiei Hawks First baseman [106]
2005 Toshiya Sugiuchi Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks Starting pitcher [110]
2006 Michihiro Ogasawara Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters First baseman [56]
2007 Yu Darvish Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters Starting pitcher [111]
2008 Hisashi Iwakuma Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles Starting pitcher [112]
2009 Yu Darvish (2) Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters Pitcher [111][113]
2010 Tsuyoshi Wada Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks Starting pitcher [114]
2011 Seiichi Uchikawa Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks First baseman [115]
2012 Mitsuo Yoshikawa Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters Starting pitcher [116]
2013 Masahiro Tanaka Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles Starting pitcher [117]
2014 Chihiro Kaneko Orix Buffaloes Pitcher [118]
2015 Yuki Yanagita Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks Outfielder [119]
2016 Shohei Ohtani Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters Starting pitcher/Designated hitter [120]
2017 Dennis Sarfate Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks Pitcher [121]
2018 Hotaka Yamakawa Saitama Seibu Lions First baseman [122]
2019 Tomoya Mori Saitama Seibu Lions Catcher [68][123]
2020 Yuki Yanagita (2) Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks Outfielder [124][125]

Multiple winners

There have been 22 players who have won the award multiple times. Sadaharu Oh currently holds the record for the most awards won, with nine. Hisashi Yamada (1976–1978) and Ichiro Suzuki (1994–1996) share the record for the most consecutive awards won. Yutaka Enatsu and Michihiro Ogasawara are the only players to have won the award in both the Central League and Pacific League. Alex Ramírez is the only non-Japanese player receive the award multiple times after the formation of two league system.

Ichiro Suzuki fielding a ball in the outfield as a Seattle Mariner
Ichiro Suzuki, three-time consecutive winner
A man in a grey baseball uniform and blue batting helmet swings a baseball bat standing at home plate.
Hideki Matsui, three-time winner
Player League # of Awards Seasons
Sadaharu Oh* Central 9 1964, 1965, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1977
Shigeo Nagashima* Central 5 1961, 1963, 1966, 1968, 1971
Katsuya Nomura* Pacific 5 1961, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1973
Kazuto Yamamoto* JBL/Pacific[D] 3 1946, 1948, 1951
Tetsuharu Kawakami* JBL/Central[E] 3 1941, 1951, 1955
Hisashi Yamada* Pacific 3 1976, 1977, 1978
Ichiro Suzuki Pacific 3 1994, 1995, 1996
Hideki Matsui Central 3 1996, 2000, 2002
Victor Starffin* JBL 2 1939, 1940
Tadashi Wakabayashi* JBL 2 1944, 1947
Takehiko Bessho* Central 2 1952, 1956
Kazuhisa Inao* Pacific 2 1957, 1958
Motoshi Fujita* Central 2 1958, 1959
Tokuji Nagaike Pacific 2 1969, 1971
Koji Yamamoto* Central 2 1975, 1980
Yutaka Enatsu Both 2 1979, 1981
Hiromitsu Ochiai Pacific 2 1982, 1985
Osamu Higashio Pacific 2 1983, 1987
Atsuya Furuta Central 2 1993, 1997
Kimiyasu Kudo Pacific 2 1993, 1999
Nobuhiko Matsunaka Pacific 2 2000, 2004
Michihiro Ogasawara Both 2 2006, 2007
Yu Darvish Pacific 2 2007, 2009
Alex Ramírez Central 2 2008, 2009
Yoshihiro Maru Central 2 2017, 2018
Tomoyuki Sugano Central 2 2014, 2020
Yuki Yanagita Pacific 2 2015, 2020

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