In the least surprising result of the 2021 Major League Baseball award season, Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani is the unanimous American League Most Valuable Player. With the award, he becomes just the second Japanese player to win the MVP, after Ichiro Suzuki, who won in 2001.
Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. finished in second place, followed by teammate Marcus Semien.
Ohtani took baseball by storm as the modern-day Babe Ruth, becoming the first player in Major League history to be selected to the All-Star Game as both a hitter and a pitcher. He was selected as a position player by the fan vote, and as a pitcher in the team’s announcement.
His stats jump off the page, hitting .257 at the plate with 46 home runs, 100 RBI’s, and 103 runs scored. He also had eight triples (tied for the major league-high) and stole 26 bases. And while his stats at the plate alone would warrant MVP conversation, Ohtani’s added brilliance on the mound made his season unprecedented.
He became the first player in Major League Baseball history to make 10 appearances on the mound while also hitting 30 home runs.
“Shohei’s season was nothing short of electric,” Angels teammate Mike Trout wrote in a statement. “At times, I felt like I was back in Little League. To watch a player throw eight innings, hit a home run, steal a base and then go play right field was incredible. What impresses me the most about him, though, is the way he carries himself both on and off the field. With so much on his plate daily, he still manages to do it with a smile.”
Ohtani had a 3.18 ERA with 156 strikeouts and 44 walks in 130 ⅓ innings. His spectacular season on the mound comes just two years removed from Tommy John surgery, which forced Ohtani to spend the 2019 season as a designated hitter and make just two starts in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.
“I’ve always dealt with a lot of doubters, especially from my days in Japan,” Ohtani said. “But I try not to let that get to me. I just wanted to have fun and see what kind of numbers I could put up.”
After winning the award, Ohtani said that one of his goals, when he came to the U.S., was winning the MVP.
“But I was more appreciative of the fact that American fans and the whole U.S.A. baseball was more accepting and welcoming of the whole two-way idea compared to when I first started in Japan,” he said through an interpreter. “It made the transition a lot easier for me.”
Ohtani’s remarkable season energized the game of baseball, giving fans a reason to tune in during the dog days of summer. Baseball must find a way to attract a younger crowd, especially as the NBA and NFL have steadily gained more traction with younger viewers in years past, and Ohtani is the answer.
In the National League, Bryce Harper of the Philadelphia Phillies took home the MVP award — the second of his career — beating out Juan Soto and Fernando Tatis Jr.
Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to email@example.com.
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