Baseball’s sensational two-way star Shohei Ohtani was unanimously voted the 2021 American League Most Valuable Player on Thursday.
Ohtani, 27, is coming off a historic season that saw him starring on both the mound and at the plate for the Los Angeles Angels, a feat that has drawn comparisons to the Hall of Famer Babe Ruth.
He is the second Japanese-born player to be voted MVP, following on Ichiro Suzuki, who was voted the AL MVP in 2001 when he played for the Seattle Mariners.
As a starting pitcher, Ohtani made 23 appearances, winning nine games while suffering two losses. The Japanese hurler struck out 156 batters.
As a hitter, he crushed 46 home runs – second only to the 48 HRs struck by Salvador Perez of the Kansas City Royals and Vlad Guerrero of the Toronto Blue Jays – and drove in 100 runs in 155 games. He also stole 26 bases.
Ohtani’s performance at the plate also makes him the first player in American League or National League history with at least 45 homers, 25 stolen bases and five triples in a season.
Ohtani joins his teammate Mike Trout as an AL MVP. Trout, who missed most of the 2021 season with injuries, won the award in 2014, 2016 and 2019.
Trout congratulated Ohtani on his achievement. “It’s been something special to witness what you’ve accomplished as a teammate,” Trout wrote in a tweet. “You have put together a season of your own.”
In Japan, Prime Minister Fumio Kishida weighed in on Friday. “It’s an extraordinary accomplishment and as a Japanese citizen, I feel very proud,” he said.
Interviewed by the MLB network Thursday, Ohtani thanked teammates, the Angels fans and his manager. He also made sure to credit the doctor who performed Tommy John surgery on his elbow in 2018.
Ohtani was the 11th baseball player to be unanimously voted AL MVP after he was named first on the ballot by the 30 voters of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Toronto’s Guerrero came second, with 29 second-place votes and one for third, the BBWAA said.
In the National League, the BBWAA announced Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper as the 2021 MVP.
Harper was named first choice by 17 writers, and second choice by nine more, sealing his victory over Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals, who came second, and Fernando Tatis Jr. of the San Diego Padres, who came third.
Harper previously won NL MVP when he played for the Washington Nationals in 2015.