Shohei Ohtani’s American League MVP Award was exactly what you’d expect.
And a total surprise too.
Although it had been clear over the past few months that Ohtani would win the prize – and he did so unanimously on Thursday afternoon – this time a year ago there were significant doubts about whether Ohtani would ever live up to the bill brought from Japan.
Prior to his successful season in 2021, injuries and ineffectiveness had troubled him for the last two seasons.
“I’ve always dealt with a lot of skeptics, especially from my days in Japan,” Ohtani said through his interpreter on a conference call after the announcement. “I tried not to let that pressure get on me. I just wanted to have fun and see what kind of numbers I could put in and how I could perform. ,
This was a good enough performance to earn first-place votes on all 30 ballots cast by two writers representing each city in the American League. The last unanimous winner in the American League in 2014 was Mike Trout.
Ohtani said, “It’s obviously winning MVP for the first time so it was a stand-alone special, but getting it unanimously makes it all the more special and gives me the opportunity to perform and excel in large numbers for next season.” It helps to get inspired.”
Ohtani was back home in Japan when he found out about the prize—a Friday morning, for him. He said that he has no special plans other than to see his mother and sister. His home country filled with pride, with Tokyo Tower lit up in Angels colors at 5:17 p.m., which is 17:17 in 24-hour time. Ohtani wears number 17.
Ohtani is the second Japanese player to win the MVP. The other, Ichiro Suzuki, was one of Ohtani’s idols when he was growing up in Japan.
Ohtani was selected unanimously, ahead of Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Blue Jays second baseman Marcus Semien.
No other Angels player received any votes. This was the first time in Mike Trout’s career that he did not get a single vote. Trout was limited to 39 games due to calf strain. He had won three MVPs and was in the top five in each of his other seasons.
Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper earned National League honors for the second time. Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto was second and San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. was third. Dodgers second baseman Tree Turner finished fifth.
Ohtani, 27, completed a remarkable season in which he was baseball’s most successful two-way player since Babe Ruth in 1919.
Ohtani hit .257 with 46 home runs and a .965 OPS. He was third in the league in homers and second in Ops, both times behind Guerrero. While Guerrero only hit and played first base, Ohtani also pitched, which certainly pushed him over the top.
Ohtani started 23 games, posted a 9–2 record and 3.18 ERA. He made 156 strike outs in 130-1/3 innings.
“Shohei’s weather was nothing short of lightning,” Trout said in a statement. “At times, I felt like I was back in Little League. Watching a player throw eight innings, hit a home run, steal a base and then play in the right field was incredible. However, what struck me the most. What it does, is that he carries himself both on and off the field. Even after having so much on his plate every day, he still manages to do it with a smile. Congratulations Shohe!”
The MVP award is the biggest award for Ohtani in an offseason, which has already seen him win the Major League Player of the Year and the Players Choice Award as the American League Outstanding Player, voted on by major league players. The Sporting News, which also picked the players, also named Ohtani as their Player of the Year.
He won the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award, the first player to be honored since 2014.
“Shohe came to the States to play his best on both sides of the ball and he accomplished that mission at the highest level,” manager Joe Maddon said in a statement. “Knowing him, this award will serve as an inspiration to surpass his past achievements. I can’t wait to see how his game helps us reach our goal of playing the last game of the season and winning it.” Congrats to Shohei and his entire family for this special honour.”
Added general manager Perry Minassian, also in a statement: “Shohei has had an excellent season and his talent speaks for itself. It’s a privilege to see him on the field daily, as well as his commitment to hone his craft.” He is a great teammate, works incredibly hard on every aspect of the game and the award is very well deserved.”
After winning the Rookie of the Year award in 2018, Ohtani didn’t get a chance to showcase his talent as a two-way player for the next two seasons. In 2019, he was rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, so he didn’t pitch. In 2020 he suffered another hand injury after just two games, and his batting average dropped to .190.
Ohtani underwent an off-season makeover last winter, increasing the intensity of his workouts and helping him refine his pitching mechanics at Driveline Baseball in Seattle.
Madon and Minassian agreed to a plan ahead of the season that would allow Ohtani to play as much as he felt he could handle, rather than impose limits on him as the Angels did in 2018 with a two-way player did on being.
The plan seemed to agree with Ohtani.
“Of course it was definitely challenging, but at the same time I had a lot of fun with it,” Ohtani said. “I felt that the expectations from the team were too high and I wanted to do my best to respond to those expectations.”
He established that he could have a chance at a successful season in his first start of the season on 4 April. He pitched 100 mph in the top of the first inning and then hit Homer at 115 mph. Turn.
Ohtani managed to maintain his high standard and stability throughout the season, playing in 155 of the Angels’ 162 games.
The next challenge will be for him to do it again next season, while the Angels will face the challenge of figuring out a reasonable price tag to sign Ohtani for a contract extension. They have signed up for $5.5 million in 2022 and arbitration-worthy in 2023. Then they would be eligible for free agency.
Asked on Thursday whether there have been any talks with the Angels about the expansion, Ohtani said this was not the time for that question. He added, however: “I really love the Angels, and I look forward to being part of the team for a long time. Right now I just want to focus on winning the next season with the Angels.”