Baseball-Japan's Ohtani lands American League MVP award
Double-threat Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels was named Most Valuable Player of Major League Baseball's American League on Thursday, making him only the second Japanese player to win the award.
Ohtani, often compared to MLB great Babe Ruth because of his ability to pitch and hit at an elite level, was the unanimous pick over Toronto Blue Jays players Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Marcus Semien in voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. "MVP is something I was shooting for, obviously, I think any player is as long as they're playing baseball professionally," said Ohtani via a translator. "But I was more appreciative of the fact that American fans - just the USA baseball - was more accepting and welcoming (of) the whole two-way idea compared to when I first started in Japan.
"It made the transition a lot easier for me, so very thankful for that." In his first full MLB season as both a hitter and pitcher, Ohtani had a .257 batting average, 46 home runs and 100 RBI to go along with a 9-2 record and 3.18 earned-run average in 23 starts on the mound.
The 27-year-old is the first Japanese player to win the award since Ichiro Suzuki earned the honours in 2001 as a member of the Seattle Mariners. A mix of power and speed rarely seen on Major League diamonds, Ohtani's 46 homers were just two off the MLB lead shared by Guerrero and Kansas City's Salvador Perez.
On the mound he overwhelmed batters with a 100mph (160 kmph)fastball and was speedster on the base path stealing 26 bases. The MVP was just the latest in a season packed with honours for Ohtani, also named the 16th recipient of the special Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award.
The honour goes to a group or person who has made a major impact on baseball and is presented at the commissioner's discretion. "Shotime," as Ohtani is known in the United States, was also named among the 100 most influential people of 2021 by the Time Magazine.
Ohtani's selection marks the sixth time an Angels player has earned MVP honours. He joins Mike Trout (2014, 2016, 2019), Don Baylor (1979) and Vladimir Guerrero (2004), father of runnerup Vladimir Guerrero Jr. "It's been something special to witness what you've accomplished as a teammate. You have put together a season of your own… WELL DESERVED, #SHOTIME!!! #MVP," tweeted Trout https://twitter.com/MikeTrout/status/1461482878127120384 immediately after the announcement.
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