Nippon Ham Fighters outfielder Atsunori Inaba has received the most fan votes of any player for the upcoming Nippon Professional Baseball All-Star series.
Inaba, who is in his fifth season with the Fighters after spending his first ten seasons with the Yakult Swallows, is presently seventh among Pacific League batters with a .329 average. He also has nine homers and 41 RBIs. Inaba received over 498,000 votes from fans, and was the top vote-getter among his fellow Japanese players with 484.
In all, eleven players from Japan’s World Baseball Classic champions were voted onto All-Star rosters, including Fighters right-handed pitcher Yu Darvish and Yakult outfielder Norichika Aoki. South Korea’s WBC closer, Chang-yong Lim, was picked for the Central League team. Lim has yet to give up an earned run in 2009 after 30.2 innings out of the bullpen. The Hanshin Tigers, who are one of the most popular teams in the country, had no players selected by fans for the first time in eight years.
Managers will pick remaining All-Star players on Monday. The All-Star Series will be held July 24 at the Sapporo Dome, home of the Fighters, and July 25 in Hiroshima’s Mazda Stadium, which opened in April.