Ramirez, Darvish named MVPs of Japanese baseball
TOKYO — Venezuelan outfielder Alex Ramirez was named MVP of Japan's Central League for the second straight year on Wednesday while pitcher Yu Darvish took the Pacific League honors.
The 35-year-old Ramirez hit .322 in helping the Yomiuri Giants to their first Japan Series championship since 2002. He had 31 homers and drove in 103 runs in 144 games this season, his ninth in Japan.
His clutch hitting helped the Giants win the CL pennant with a comfortable 12-game lead over the Chunichi Dragons.
"Playing for the Giants there is a lot of pressure," Ramirez said. "But I'm really happy with the numbers I put up and I want to thank everyone who voted for me who thought I deserved to be MVP in 2009."
Before coming to Japan, Ramirez played in the major leagues for the Cleveland Indians and Pittsburgh Pirates.
Despite missing almost a month at the end of the season due to back and shoulder injuries, Darvish went 15-5 with 167 strikeouts and a 1.73 ERA for the Nippon Ham Fighters, who lost to the Giants in the Japan Series in six games.
Darvish, 23, missed the first round of the playoffs then made a surprise start to win Game 2 of the Japan Series. It was later revealed he was pitching with a broken finger.
"I was a little surprised to win the MVP because I had a lot of injuries near the end of the season," Darvish said. "But there were a lot good experiences in 2009 and this award adds to that."
Darvish, who was the Pacific League's MVP in 2007, was a member of Japan's championship team at the World Baseball Classic in March.