Eiji Sawamura Award

The Eiji Sawamura Award (沢村栄治賞, Sawamura Eiji-shō), commonly known as the Sawamura Award, is an honor bestowed upon the top starting pitcher in Nippon Professional Baseball each year.

The award was originally established by Japanese magazine "Nekkyū" in 1947 to honor the career of Eiji Sawamura, a power pitcher who enjoyed an illustrious career for the Tokyo Giants before being killed in combat during World War II. It is a special award that is independent of the official Most Valuable Pitcher award that is presented to one pitcher in each league (Central and Pacific) each year.


Selection process

One starting pitcher in Nippon Professional Baseball is chosen at the end of each season based on the following selection criteria.

The selection criteria were established in 1982; prior to this, a pool of journalists voted on the pitcher they thought was most deserving of the award without any particular criteria. These simply serve as guidelines; while the pitcher who fulfills the most criteria has the most likelihood of winning, pitchers who do not fulfill all seven criteria have often been presented the award.

In the rare event that another pitcher has a season that is deemed more outstanding, a pitcher may, in turn, fulfill all seven criteria and not win the award. In 2008, Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters starting pitcher Yu Darvish (16-4, 1.88 ERA, 208 strikeouts) fulfilled all seven criteria, but Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma won the award despite meeting only six criteria because it was deemed that Iwakuma (21-4, 1.87 ERA, 159 strikeouts) had the better season overall.

The selection committee usually consists of five former pitchers. The 2008 panel consisted of Masayuki Dobashi (chairman), Masaji Hiramatsu, Tsuneo Horiuchi, Choji Murata, and Yutaka Ohno.

Other notes

Because it began as an independent award by Nekkyū, a magazine catered towards Giants fans, only Central League pitchers were eligible to win the award from 1950 (the first year the NPB employed the current two-league format) to 1989. The first pitcher to be bestowed the honors from the Pacific League was Hideo Nomo for the Kintetsu Buffaloes in 1990.

No pitcher was found to be sufficiently deserving of the award in 1971, 1980, 1984, and 2000. The award has been presented to two pitchers in the same season twice (1966, 2003).

While it is sometimes assumed that the award was introduced following the creation of the Cy Young Award in Major League Baseball, the Cy Young was not introduced until 1956, nine years after the creation of the Sawamura Award.


Bold names indicate pitchers who met all seven criteria (limited to 1982 and later winners)

1947Takehiko BesshoNankai Hawks
1948Hiroshi NakaoYomiuri Giants
1949Hideo FujimotoYomiuri Giants
1950Shigeo SanadaShochiku Robins
1951Shigeru SugishitaChunichi Dragons
1952Shigeru SugishitaChunichi Dragons
1953Takumi OtomoYomiuri Giants
1954Shigeru SugishitaChunichi Dragons
1955Takehiko BesshoYomiuri Giants
1956Masaichi KanedaKokutetsu Swallows
1957Masaichi KanedaKokutetsu Swallows
1958Masaichi KanedaKokutetsu Swallows
1959Minoru MurayamaHanshin Tigers
1960Ritsuo HorimotoYomiuri Giants
1961Hiroshi GondoChunichi Dragons
1962Masaaki KoyamaHanshin Tigers
1963Yoshiaki ItoYomiuri Giants
1964Gene BacqueHanshin Tigers
1965Minoru MurayamaHanshin Tigers
1966Minoru MurayamaHanshin Tigers
Tsuneo HoriuchiYomiuri Giants
1967Kentaro OgawaChunichi Dragons
1968Yutaka EnatsuHanshin Tigers
1969Kazumi TakahashiYomiuri Giants
1970Masaji HiramatsuTaiyo Whales
1971Not awarded
1972Tsuneo HoriuchiYomiuri Giants
1973Kazumi TakahashiYomiuri Giants
1974Senichi HoshinoChunichi Dragons
1975Yoshiro SotokobaHiroshima Toyo Carp
1976Kojiro IkegayaHiroshima Toyo Carp
1977Shigeru KobayashiYomiuri Giants
1978Hiromu MatsuokaYakult Swallows
1979Shigeru KobayashiHanshin Tigers
1980Not awarded
1981Takashi NishimotoYomiuri Giants
1982Manabu KitabeppuHiroshima Toyo Carp
1983Kazuhiko EndoYokohama Taiyo Whales
1984Not awarded
1985Tatsuo KomatsuChunichi Dragons
1986Manabu KitabeppuHiroshima Toyo Carp
1987Masumi KuwataYomiuri Giants
1988Yutaka OhnoHiroshima Toyo Carp
1989Masaki SaitoYomiuri Giants
1990Hideo NomoKintetsu Buffaloes
1991Shinji SasaokaHiroshima Toyo Carp
1992Takehiro IshiiSeibu Lions
1993Shinji ImanakaChunichi Dragons
1994Masahiro YamamotoChunichi Dragons
1995Masaki SaitoYomiuri Giants
1996Masaki SaitoYomiuri Giants
1997Fumiya NishiguchiSeibu Lions
1998Kenjiro KawasakiYakult Swallows
1999Koji UeharaYomiuri Giants
2000Not awarded
2001Daisuke MatsuzakaSeibu Lions
2002Koji UeharaYomiuri Giants
2003Kei IgawaHanshin Tigers
Kazumi SaitoFukuoka Daiei Hawks
2004Kenshin KawakamiChunichi Dragons
2005Toshiya SugiuchiFukuoka SoftBank Hawks
2006Kazumi SaitoFukuoka SoftBank Hawks
2007Yu DarvishHokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters
2008Hisashi IwakumaTohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles
2009Hideaki WakuiSaitama Seibu Lions
2010Kenta MaedaHiroshima Toyo Carp
2011Masahiro TanakaTohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles
2012Tadashi SettsuFukuoka SoftBank Hawks
2013Masahiro TanakaTohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles
2014Chihiro KanekoOrix Buffaloes
2015Kenta MaedaHiroshima Toyo Carp
2016Kris JohnsonHiroshima Toyo Carp[1]
2017Tomoyuki SuganoYomiuri Giants

See also


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