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The Argument for Sakamoto

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While Mexico City Kings' defenseman Ryuji Sakamoto didn't put up the gaudy point totals of his peer in Houston, Hammar Voss, or the more balanced totals of Voss's teammate AirRig GoodBrandSun, or the league-leading assist total of Philadelphia's Siyan Yasilievich, there should absolutely be consideration for Sakamoto as the VHLM's defenseman of the year. As a reporter embedded with Sakamoto, I must confess to some bias up front, but I think I'll be able to make a compelling enough argument using statistics that it hopefully more than makes up for any bias, real or perceived.  


First, let's explore each of those four player's point totals. Voss finished fifth in the VHLM in scoring, which is, admittedly, an absolutely insane feat. He had 121 points on the strength of 76 assists. Yasilievich and GoodBrandSun had 96 and 94 points, respectively, to finish second and third in defensive scoring, so off the bat we're looking at a full 25 point gap between the number 1 and number 2 defensive scorers. Sakamoto, for his part, finished 7th in blueliner scoring with 79 points.


Now, doing some quick math, the Houston Bulls ended the season with an absurd 353 goals for. Hammar Voss contributed a point in 34% of his team's scoring. GoodBrandSun, as another member of the Houston Bulls blueline corps, had a hand in 26.6% of his team's goals. For Siyan Yasilievich of the Philly Reapers, we're looking at 28.5%. Finally, for Sakamoto, on a comparatively anemic offensive team in the Kings, we have a 32.2% rate. Not quite as high as Voss, but significantly higher than GoodBrandSun or Yasilievich.


With that out of the way, the real meat and potatoes of the argument is on the defensive aspect of defenseman. What Hammar Voss did in blueline scoring, Sakamoto did for shot blocks. Sakamoto's 227 blocks was tops in the league, and he lead from game 1 through game 72. The second place total, from Miami's Nicholas Blue, was 183. Third place with 147 is San Diego's Babushka. None of the three defensemen mentioned in the opening of this piece - Voss, GoodBrandSun, and Yasilievich - are in the top 10. Of them, GoodBrandSun had the highest total with 118 blocks, barely more than half of Sakamoto's total. Further, Sakamoto led the entire VHLM in hits as well with 266, which averages out to a hair under 3.70 hits per game. Of the Bulls' defensive pairing and Philadelphia's Yasilievich, only GoodBrandSun ranks in the top 10, with 224 hits, or 3.11 hits per game. 


Finally, and most controversially, Sakamoto finished third in the league in penalty minutes with 144. Once again GoodBrandSun is the only blueliner of focus in this piece to be in the top 10 - ranked fifth with 126. Some people will cite this as an example to vote against a player, but having examined the games pretty closely, most of Sakamoto's penalties relate to roughing and generally being involved in the physical aspects of the game.


Ultimately, it's not up to me to decide who gets nominated for awards, let alone who wins them. At the very least, I hope that Sakamoto gets some recognition for his well-rounded performance this year. 



Edited by der meister
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