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Baseball is the King of Sports and one of the most popular team sports in Japan. From the little leagues to the major leagues, every team has a group of devoted fans and followers that cheers them in every game.
High school baseball is also a bigger challenge for many teams. The spring-summer tournament that ends in the big game at the Koshien stadium is the dream for many Japanese teenagers; a dream that only one team can fulfill every year.
To reach the Koshien, one needs a good team. A team formed by the best possible players, who can work together for the common good. Diamond no Ace has many good teams, but among those, only ten players can make the top list.
10. Hiroshi Ono
The foundation of a good team is the catcher. After all, he is the only one in the defense that can see the whole field. Not only that, he is the one who is in direct communication with the pitcher, the one who reads each batter, and who decides which pitch to use next.
Hiroshi, a right batter, was not a first lineup catcher. He used to work as part of the reserve, but unlike others, he keeps a meticulous consideration towards all pitchers, both on his team and on the other schools’. He also prefers to play things safe and keep the pitcher’s control rather than risk having extra runners on base to keep an eye on.
The only real problem with Hiroshi as a catcher is that he tends to be self-deprecating, and thus, he doesn’t see his own strength. This is why despite being a great asset to any team, he is just in place 10 in our list.
9. Kamiya Carlos Toshiki
Carlos is the lead-off runner in the Inashiro High School’s lineup due to his height and long stride, which make him reach a base even with a grounder ball that doesn’t leave the infield. His speed also makes him an amazing Center Fielder, wearing number 8 on his jersey, as he can keep an eye on most fly balls in his area.
As a batter, he’s very good against fastballs, even if his attitude may leave him open for a strike-out due to his unique batting stance. Still, due to his training, if he hits the ball straight on, it’s very possible it will be a homerun.
This young Brazilian-Japanese player has just one big flaw, and that is that when he tries to take care of others, he usually ends up making them care for him. Due to this, it’s a bit hard to keep him working as part of a team, rather than as a sort of leader. For example, he may trust his pitcher, but he doesn’t like him and that can cause friction. For that, and despite his amazing shoulder strength, he is only on the ninth place of our list.
8. Akira Nagao
The best pitcher is the one who can keep the batters on their toes, surprising them with different speeds. And the ones who can actually do a knuckleball pitch, a slow pitch that doesn’t spin and looks faster than it really is, are rare and very precious for any team.
And that is why Akira managed to get his subpar team all the way to the fourth finals, by the simple strength of his knuckleball pitch. A talent he managed to get due to his tenacity and decision to reach the Koshien with his friends. Unfortunately, a team can’t win with one man alone, and a pitcher can’t depend on one pitch that requires absolute control, so the team lost against Inashiro Industrial.
Since Akira depends too much on himself and doesn’t listen to his teammates, he can’t be higher on the list. But because his knuckleball is really valuable, he gets the eighth place.
7. Jun Isashiki
While the catcher is the foundation of the team, it’s the responsibility of the rest of the team to keep the spirits high during the game. Even if they’re losing, someone has to make sure no one gives in to anger or depression. A sad team will lose, even if there are still innings to go. And Jun is the one who fills that role for his team, keeping everyone in high hopes of a triumph from the center field.
Of course, he’s not just a cheerleader. He has a very strong arm, and was only passed on as a pitcher due to a lack of control. Still, he’s one of the very few players in the whole series that can throw a ball from the centerfield to the catcher without the ball bouncing on the infield. Not only that, he is the power hitter of his team, usually placed third in the lineup in order to “keep the inning alive” and make sure that the cleanup hitter will have men on base.
Because of that particular combination of skills, he is definitively the one who earned the seventh place in our baseball list.
6. Haruichi Kominato
While the main team is important, one has to have a good backup in the dugout. After all, one never knows when someone may get injured, much less when a game may go to extra innings. Pinch hitters and closer pitchers are as important as the opening lineup.
Haruichi started as part of the reserve, but as the second baseman, he is one of the cornerstones of the Seidou High defense. He has an amazing instinct that lets him know where the ball will fall when hit, and if he really has a chance to hit a pitch or if he should let it be a ball.
Unfortunately, he is also very frail and doesn’t have much stamina. Unless he can start training to work a better endurance, he may stay as a secret weapon as pinch hitter rather than move to the first lineup and thus, stay in the sixth place of our list.
5. Miyuki Kazuya
We already talked about the importance of a catcher for a team. And Miyuki Kazuya is not just the main catcher for the Seidou High School team, but also the Captain of the team. While he is a bit more arrogant than other catchers, he has always wanted to be the best in the position, and has been training for it since elementary school, for no other reason than the fact that he liked the different mitt.
As part of Seidou’s main battery, he has an uncommonly high baseball feel, which surprises even coaches from their opponent schools. He prefers to call the shots in order to bring up the skills of his pitchers, rather than trust blindly in their personal instinct, which may create some friction with the others since he is seen as arrogant or cheeky.
Despite his personality flaws, he’s still a very solid baseball player, and that is why he earns fifth place in our list.
4. Mei Narumiya
Sometimes, a player’s ability can be good enough that other flaws can be ignored. This is the case for Inashiro Industrial’s ace and main pitcher, Mei Naruyima. Being a southpaw, he has a natural advantage over right-handed pitchers and batters. This makes him the perfect choice to lead his team, but also gave him the idea that he didn’t really need to practice as much as the others. This is, of course, the biggest flaw he has as an Ace, and that makes the rest of the team less inclined to trust him even as they follow him on the field.
As a pitcher, he has at least four different pitches, and that helps him to set the rhythm of a game. Because he can strike out very skilled batters, that means he can also pace his own pitches and thus can pitch for nine innings without needing a closer. Unfortunately, his pride also means that at some points, he will stop listening to his catcher and get fixated on a pitch or a batter.
He is prideful and needs to practice more, but there’s no denying that he has a lot of natural talent. That alone lands him the fourth place in our list.
3. Satoru Furuya
Baseball is a team sport. One can be the strongest batter, the best pitcher, or the most precise fielder, and if the rest of the team is not pulling their weight, it is impossible to win. At the same time, the weaker members of the team have to understand that just because someone is more talented than them, it doesn’t mean they don’t belong in the team. Unfortunately for Satoru, most of his teams in elementary school didn’t understand that. Due to this problem, he trained on his own until he entered Seido High School.
As a pitcher, Satoru is incredibly strong, which has earned him the nickname Monster Rookie. Unfortunately, this means he is not good in the infield since just a catcher can get his throws without getting hurt. As a batter, his main strength is his speed, and he can get a homerun out of a deep hit if he tries hard enough. Another of his flaws is that he is not that used to playing in a team, and that as a pitcher, he can lose control of his throws by trying to get a faster pitch.
These facts make Satoru a very worthy player, one that just needs a little more training to be a real ace. Just for that, he gets our third place.
2. Katsuyuki Shirakawa
Shortstop is a very complicated position. Between third and second, the player there has to make sure no balls pass his way, and be ready to defend second and third whenever needed for double plays. He’s also on the lookout for stealing bases, and part of the left field. And Katsuyuki Shirakawa uses his speed to fill that place for the Inashiro Industrial team.
As the second hitter, he is not very strong. His bunts can be surprising and win some extra time, but he lacks the power for deep hits. However, since he has a cool calculating mind, he can determine if a pitch is a ball or a strike, and will hit any pitch in the strike zone to the infield in order to get in a base. Just for that, he is a very valuable batter.
As he can also make the opponents lose their cool, and can find their weakness fast and use it against the whole team, he wins the second place in our list of valuable players.
1. Eijun Sawamura
A great baseball player is a great team player. While someone with little talent can train and become better, someone who refuses to connect and work with his team will never learn to be part of said team. While it may look as if the pitcher and the catcher do most of the job on the field, every single fielder is equally important and can save the game if the pitcher needs it. A good player never betrays his team.
And this is why despite being in the second reserve Seidou team, and then being relegated to number 20 in the first lineup, Eijun Sawamura is the best baseball player in Diamond no Ace. Because he understands that a pitcher needs a catcher, a first baseman, a second baseman, a shortstop, a good third baseman and of course, three good outfielders. And that nothing is more important than the team. To the point that he would stay with a subpar team formed by his friends instead of moving to a better high school to play with a great team… because his first team are his friends and family.
Because Eijun understands the true spirit of baseball, and he keeps training to be the best not for himself, but for his team, he gets the first place on the list..
A good baseball team is like a family. Some people may think it’s all about numbers and statistics, but the truth is that a good player can mesh with others, and sometimes, a weak batter can complete a good lineup to create a winning team. After all, even the most cursed team in the League can reach the World Series if they really make an effort to win.
Of course, you can disagree. Perhaps there are players you think are better than the ones we listed. Or maybe you think someone’s statistics are more important than their drive to win, which is also a valid way to create a team. So please let us know in the comments, and let’s get ready for a new baseball season the next year.