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[NPB NOTEBOOK] Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Shoki Murakami Named 2023 Season MVPs

For the third straight year, Yoshinobu Yamamoto received the Pacific League MVP award, becoming the first NPB player since Ichiro Suzuki to do so.

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Yoshinobu Yamamoto
Pitchers Yoshinobu Yamamoto (left) and Shoki Murakami hold the Pacific League and Central League MVP plaques for the 2023 NPB season during an awards ceremony on November 28, 2023, in Tokyo. (ⒸSANKEI)

Read the full story on SportsLook - [NPB NOTEBOOK] Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Shoki Murakami Named 2023 Season MVPs

Just before he heads off to negotiate with MLB, Orix Buffaloes ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto added another honor to his long list of NPB accomplishments.

Yamamoto was named Pacific League MVP and Hanshin Tigers rookie starter Shoki Murakami, who helped lead his team past Orix in the Japan Series, collected the Central League MVP accolade. The players received their awards on Tuesday, November 28.

Yamamoto became the first NPB player since Ichiro Suzuki from 1994-96 to win three straight MVP awards. Suzuki also played for Orix when they were known as the BlueWave before heading off to an illustrious career in MLB.  

The 25-year-old Yamamoto led the Pacific League in wins (16) strikeouts (169) and ERA (1.21) in 2023, the third straight year he has topped those categories.

He also won his third straight Sawamura Award as Japan's top pitcher. 

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Yoshinobu Yamamoto
Orix Buffaloes ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto fires a pitch in Game 6 of the Japan Series on November 4 at Kyocera Dome. (SANKEI)

Yoshinobu Yamamoto Reflects on His Baseball Journey

"I can't say I left everything out there on the field, but I've had a terrific journey in pro baseball," Yamamoto said, according to Kyodo News. "I'm very happy because it is important for me to continue to contribute."

Yamamoto is currently seeking a contract with an MLB team via the posting system. 

The New York Yankees are seen by many to be the odds-on favorite to sign Yamamoto. Other teams said to be in the mix are the New York Mets, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers.

Hanshin Tigers
Shoki Murakami (ⒸSANKEI)

Murakami Surprised to Receive a Pair of Accolades

Murakami, who was the CL's Rookie of the Year, went 10-6 and led the league with a 1.75 ERA. 

"I didn't imagine I'd win both," Murakami told Kyodo before adding, "I didn't think I'd win the MVP out of so many good players."

Looking ahead to next season, Murakami said, "I want to strive to achieve even better results."

Continue reading the full story on SportsLook.

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Author: Jim Armstrong

The author is a longtime journalist who has covered sports in Japan for over 25 years. You can find his articles on SportsLook.

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