LOS ANGELES (AFP) — Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani won the American League Most Valuable Player award Thursday, becoming the first to twice claim the honor by unanimous vote.
The Los Angeles Angels standout who dazzled both on the mound and at the plate, was also the unanimous selection for AL MVP in 2021 in voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
His latest sweep of the 30 first-place votes follows a runner-up finish to slugger Aaron Judge last year.
Atlanta Braves right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. of Venezuela was also a unanimous selection as the National League MVP after a scintillating season that saw him lead the NL in runs, hits, stolen bases and on-base percentage.
Ohtani beat out fellow finalists Corey Seager and Marcus Semien of the World Series-winning Texas Rangers despite missing most of the final month of the season with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow.
His second MVP award comes as he ponders his future as a free agent.
He is widely expected to leave the Angels, who missed the playoffs again despite his exploits.
Plenty of teams will be wooing him. Despite the injury that cut short his season, 2023 was his best campaign to date.
As a designated hitter, Ohtani led the AL in home runs with 44, in on-base percentage (.412), slugging percentage (.654) and total bases (325).
He hit 26 doubles and eight triples with 20 stolen bases and 95 runs-batted-in. He hit over .300 for the first time in his six-year major league career.
In 23 pitching starts he went 10-5 with a 3.14 earned-run-average and 167 strikeouts in 132 innings.
He had the lowest batting average against (.184) among all AL pitchers with at least 130 innings.
It marked Ohtani’s second straight season with at least 10 wins on the mound and 10 home runs at the plate.
The only other AL/NL player to accomplish that was Babe Ruth — the Hall of Famer Ohtani is often compared to — back in 1918.
Ohtani’s season featured a stunning June, when he hit 15 home runs, seven doubles and three triples with 29 runs-batted in in 27 games.
At the same time on the mound, he went 2-2 with 3.26 earned-run-average and 37 strikeouts.
He was named to the All-Star Game as both a starting pitcher and a designated hitter for the third straight season.