Ryoya Kurihara (栗原 陵矢)
- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 5' 10", Weight 165 lb.
- High School Fukui Prefectural Harue Technical High School
Ryoya Kurihara was MVP of the 2020 Japan Series.
Kurihara played for Japan when they won Silver in the 2014 U-18 Asian Championship.  The Softbank Hawks took him in the second round of the 2014 NPB draft, after taking Yuki Matsumoto in the first round.  He played briefly in the minor Western League in 2015 and hit .306/.327/.367 in 19 games there in 2016. He then slipped to .212 with one homer in 33 AB in the Asia Winter Baseball League. 
He made his Pacific League debut in 2017, pinch-hitting for Takuya Kai and being retired by Tomoyuki Sugano. He was 0 for 3 but hit a solid .271/.336/.442 in the WL with 15 doubles and 5 triples in 70 games. He tied for 10th in the loop in doubles and tied for fourth in triples. He was the Hawks' #4 catcher in 2018, going 1 for 9; his first NPB hit came off Yuki Karakawa. He was at .243/.321/.400 in the minors.
He split 2019 between the PL (.231/.311/.359 in 45 PA, 32 G) and WL (.323/.362/.564, 9 HR, 6 3B in 55 G). His first NPB homer was off Yasuhiro Tanaka. He tied for 2nd in the WL in triples, was sixth in home runs and had a higher average than any of the qualifiers.
Kurihara became a regular for the Hawks in 2020; with Kai still ensconced at catcher, he was used as a corner outfielder and first baseman. He hit .243/.307/.420 with 17 homers and 73 RBI in 118 games in the COVID-19-shortened campaign. He was 9th in the PL in two-baggers (21), 7th in dingers and tied Hotaka Yamakawa for 4th in RBI. He was 14th in voting for the 2020 Pacific League Most Valuable Player Award.  He then starred in the 2020 Japan Series as Softbank swept the Yomiuri Giants. In Game 1, he hit a two-run homer off Sugano for the first runs and added two doubles, two more RBI and a walk without getting out. In Game 2, he was 4 for 5 and won Game MVP. He was hitless in Game 3 and Game 4 but still finished at .500/.588/.857 for the best OPS of the Series, while only Alfredo Despaigne finished with more RBI. He was named Series MVP, a year after having been a bench player and minor leaguer.