Wednesday, March 29 2023
Los Angeles Angels' Shohei Ohtani pitches against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning.

Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani pitches delivers against the Oakland Athletics on Oct. 5. Ohtani finished a distant second to Yankees star Aaron Judge in AL MVP voting. (Godofredo A. Vásquez / Associated Press)

Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani did not repeat as the American League’s most valuable player.

New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, who hit an American League-record 62 home runs this season, won the award Thursday, earning 28 of 30 first-place votes. Ohtani got the other two first-place votes and finished second. He received 28 second-place votes.

Judge led the AL in RBIs (131) and finished second in the league in batting (.311) to Minnesota’s Luis Arraez (.316).

Asked how nervous he was waiting for the award winner to be announced, Judge said: “Extremely nervous, are you kidding me? You’re going up against Yordan Alvarez, one of the top premier hitters in this game, and then Shohei Ohtani is by far one of the best players on this planet. You never want to assume anything.”

Ohtani had an impeccable 2021 season on the way to becoming a unanimous MVP, and there were doubts he could have another season like it. In 2022, he continued to set his own precedent.

He compiled a season in which only two AL pitchers struck out more batters: Gerrit Cole and Dylan Cease. And only three AL hitters had more home runs: Judge, Mike Trout and Alvarez.

Ohtani had 160 hits, including 34 home runs, 30 doubles and six triples, scored 90 runs and had 95 RBIs. He finished with a .273 batting average and an .875 on-base-plus-slugging percentage.

He had more extra-base hits, as well as runs, home runs and RBIs last season, but struck out less in 2022.

“Before the season, I had an image of batting close to .300,” Ohtani said after the final game of the season in Oakland on Oct. 5. “One of the challenges was how many home runs I could hit with that kind of approach. What stood out a little were the balls that died right in front of the fence. I think if I can grow just a little more, both [home runs and average] will increase.”

New York Yankees Aaron Judge rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run against the Cleveland Guardians in the playoffs.New York Yankees Aaron Judge rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run against the Cleveland Guardians in the playoffs.

New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the Cleveland Guardians in Game 5 of an American League Division Series. (John Minchillo / Associated Press)

On the mound, he pitched a career-high 166 innings, with a career-high 219 strikeouts over 28 starts. He finished with a 2.33 earned-run average and a 2.40 fielding-independent-pitching rate — which is similar to ERA, but only accounts for what a pitcher has control over, such as strikeouts, hit by pitches and home runs. He went 15-9 and finished fourth in voting for the AL Cy Young Award.

“First, I think the good part was that I was able to be steady and pitch every game,” Ohtani said in Oakland. “I think that was the best part. Fatigue aside, being able to take the mound healthy was No. 1. If I continue that next season, I think I can grow more and more and put up numbers that are better and better.”

This season, he became the first player in MLB history to hit at least 30 home runs and strike out at least 200 batters in the same season.

In 2022, Ohtani also shattered a nearly 100-year-old record of 10 wins and 10 home runs hit in the same season, set by Babe Ruth (1918), Bullet Rogan (1922) and Ed Rile (1927). He also became the first player in the World Series era to qualify as a league leader for both pitchers and hitters.

St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt was chosen as the National League’s MVP, finishing ahead of San Diego Padres third baseman Manny Machado and Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado. Freddie Freeman and Mookie Betts of the Dodgers finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

Source: Yahoo Sports


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