Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani and Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. were unanimously named the Most Valuable Players by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Thursday night, after both earned all 30 first-place votes for their respective leagues.
Ohtani becomes the first player ever to be named unanimous American League MVP twice and joins Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera as the only foreign-born players to win the award multiple times. Earning a total of 420 points, Ohtani beat out Texas Rangers teammates Corey Seager with 264 points and Marcus Semien with 216 points.
“Obviously, I wanted to win it last year but (Aaron) Judge had a spectacular season and deservedly so he won it, so I wanted to come back stronger and try to win it this year,” Ohtani, who won the award in 2021 and finished in second place last season, said via an interpreter on MLB Network. “I know my rivals Semien and Seager had great seasons and congrats to them for winning the World Series, I think it’s awesome.
“My goal was to try to come out on top and I guess it kind of pays off all my hard work.”
American League sensation
Ohtani, 29, led the American League in home runs with 44, and the major leagues in OPS at 1.066 while sporting a .304 batting average and 20 stolen bases.
As a pitcher, the three-time All-Star finished with a 10-5 record and 3.14 ERA in 23 starts for the Los Angeles Angels, before tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow in August.
Ohtani is set to be one of the most sought-after free agents this offseason after his contract with the Angels, the only team he has played for since coming to the major leagues in 2018, expired. Prior to his injuries the two-time MVP was projected to command more than $500 million, approximately $50 million per year, in his next contract per the New York Post.
Senior circuit star
Meanwhile, Acuña won his first NL MVP award after a historic season in which he hit 41 home runs and led the majors with 73 stolen bases, becoming the sixth member in MLB history of the 40-40 club and first ever to join the 40-50, 40-60 and 40-70 clubs. Prior to this season, no other player had tallied more than 46 steals during a season in which they hit 40-plus home runs.
Additionally, Acuña led the majors with 149 runs, 217 hits, an on-base percentage of .416) and a 1.012 OPS.
“I feel really happy and privileged to be here with my family,” Acuña said in Spanish on MLB Network, surrounded by friends and family. “To all the fans in Venezuela and Latin America, thank you for all the support from Day One. I don’t know what to say, I’m super excited and happy and I hope that by the grace of God I can have a better season next year than the one I just had.”
Acuña’s 420 points edged out a pair of Los Angeles Dodgers players in Mookie Betts with 270 points and Freddie Freeman with 227, to claim his first career MVP award.
Prior to Thursday, there had never been two unanimous MVPs announced by the writers’ association in the same season, dating back to 1931.