Unanimous MVP: Ohtani Shows History-Making Talent through Brilliant, Passionate Play

Shohei Ohtani put on phenomenal performances in both pitching and hitting again this past season. There is no question that he has already proven himself to be the best baseball player in the world, not only because of the amazing things he does on the field but also because of his humility.

Ohtani, a free agent after finishing his contract with the Los Angeles Angels, has been named the American League’s Most Valuable Player. It is his second time to achieve the feat since first winning it two years ago. Ohtani was the unanimous winner again, earning first-place votes from all 30 eligible writers.

It is the first time in Major League Baseball history that a player has been unanimously chosen as the MVP twice. It is hoped that everyone will share in the joy of Ohtani’s accomplishment of making history in the U.S. baseball world and give him a big round of applause.

Ohtani hit 44 homers this past season, becoming the first Japanese player to win a major league home run title. He had a .304 batting average with 95 RBIs and 20 stolen bases, while as a pitcher, he went 10-5 with 167 strikeouts.

One can almost forget how amazing his stats are as they watch his outstanding performances every year, but these numbers are indeed incredible.

There was even a day this past season in which the two-way star threw a complete game in the opener of a doubleheader, then hit two home runs in the nightcap. It is fair to say that he deserves the unanimous MVP.

Always aiming to improve, Ohtani stoically devotes himself to baseball. His attitude and daily training are probably the reasons for his overwhelming performances, which far exceed other players.

He is always smiling. In a game, however, he greedily pursues victory with a fierce fighting spirit. His passionate play at this year’s World Baseball Classic must be etched into the minds of many people.

Recently, Ohtani announced that he would donate 60,000 baseball gloves — three each to about 20,000 elementary schools across Japan. “Let’s play baseball!” was written on his social media post. It is no wonder why his popularity has surged in both Japan and the United States.

Ohtani must have been frustrated to miss the final games of the season after undergoing surgery on a right elbow ligament in September. He is expected to limit himself to hitting next season.

The Orix Buffaloes’ Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who won the Sawamura Award for a third year in a row and is now considered Japan’s best pitcher, is aiming to make the jump to the majors. Which team will Ohtani play for next season? Will these two players face each other? There is no end to the excitement.

It is not only baseball players, but young Japanese athletes in soccer, basketball, volleyball and other sports have also gone abroad to play on the international stage.

The situation should lead to elevating the level of popularity of these sports in Japan. Above all, it is hoped that this will expand the dreams of children and encourage them to take up sports.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Nov. 18, 2023)