SIS is pleased to announce the winners of the 2023 NPB Fielding Bible Awards. This marks the 4th season that we have honored the best defensive players in NPB. The awards are chosen by a panel of experts who consider statistical analysis, the eye test, and any other factors that they wish to utilize.
We are also announcing the winner of our inaugural NPB Defensive Player of the Year award.
This year’s winners are
|Player of the Year||Chusei Mannami||Nippon-Ham|
Defensive Player of the Year
Nippon-Ham right fielder Chusei Mannami is our inaugural NPB Defensive Player of the Year. Mannami’s 18 Defensive Runs Saved in right field were by far the most at that position in 2023.
The driving factor behind Mannami’s Runs Saved was his throwing arm. He totaled 12 Outfield Arm Runs Saved, which are awarded both for assists and for preventing runners from taking an extra base on hits. By comparison, the MLB leader in Outfield Arm Runs Saved, Nolan Jones, had 11.
“Having a guy like Mannami in the outfield is equivalent to having an outstanding middle linebacker,” said Awards voter John Gibson of the Japan Baseball Weekly Podcast. “He has the speed to run down a lot of plays and also sack your runners on the bases. The arm is not only strong, but he has the footwork and accuracy to produce magical outfield assists. It’s an MLB-caliber arm. Even speedy runners in Japan throttle down when the ball goes his way unless they’re desperate in late-game situations.”
Yomiuri had 3 winners – catcher Takumi Ohshiro, second baseman Naoki Yoshikawa, and infielder Makoto Kadowaki, who won our Multi-Position Award.
Ohshiro ranked as one of the best called strike-getters in the league and led all catchers in Defensive Runs Saved, which measures all-around defensive excellence. Yoshikawa ranked second in Runs Saved at his position. Kadowaki led third basemen in Runs Saved and ranked second among shortstops despite playing part-time at each spot.
Seibu shortstop Sosuke Genda, who led the position in Runs Saved, won for the 3rd time in the 4-year history of the Award. His teammate, first baseman David MacKinnon was the only former MLB player to win. MacKinnon had the most Runs Saved among Award-eligible players at first base.
Yokohama third baseman Toshiro Miyazaki won a close vote at the position. Joining Mannami in the outfield were SoftBank left fielder Kensuke Kondoh and Hanshin center fielder Kōji Chikamoto. Kondoh led his position in Defensive Runs Saved. Chikamoto was 1 Run Saved off the center field lead among Award-eligible players and was one of the standouts on a team that led NPB in Defensive Runs Saved.
Rounding out the awards was Orix pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto who was not just the top pitcher in NPB this season, but also among the top fielding pitchers. Yamamoto was just posted by Orix and will command a large contract from whichever MLB team signs him.
“Desire, physical skill, mental acuity and the endurance to perform at an elite level for the duration of a major league season,” said SIS VP, Baseball, Bobby Scales. “That is what defines an elite defender. These 10 individuals have displayed elite defense and then some over the course of the NPB season.”
Our expert panel consisted of NPB media: Jim Allen (Japan Baseball Weekly), Jason Coskrey (Japan Times), John Gibson (Japan Baseball Weekly), and Yuri Karasawa (Yakyu Cosmopolitan), with consultation from Brandon Tew (Sports Info Solutions).
The history of the NPB Fielding Bible Awards (which began in 2020) can be found online at FieldingBible.com.