Shohei Ohtani (29-LA Angels) is the No. 1 pick for American League MVP in 2023, even though his season ended nearly a month early. Add to that the fact that pioneer Ichiro Suzuki (50) has been tipped to accomplish the unattainable, and you have a recipe for greatness.
Ben Verlander, an analyst for U.S. media outlet Fox Sports, wrote on his social media account on Sunday (June 17), “Ohtani’s 2023 is over, but it was one of the greatest and most impressive seasons in baseball history. It will undoubtedly lead to his second American League MVP award.”
Earlier in the day, the Angels officially announced that Ohtani will be out for the 2023 season. The announcement was widely expected, as Ohtani’s locker room emptied the day before (Aug. 16). After starting the first game of a doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds on August 24, Ohtani felt elbow pain and was soon diagnosed with a torn medial collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow. He then suffered an additional right lateral strain during batting practice and hasn’t taken the field since April 4 against the Oakland Athletics.
Initially, a second elbow ligament reconstruction (Tommy John surgery) after 2018 seemed likely, but it has not yet been determined exactly which surgery he will undergo. According to MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball, Ohtani will undergo surgery on his UCL tear as early as next week. His six-year association with the Los Angeles Angels is effectively over.
“Ohtani’s decision to leave the locker room early was not done with malicious intent, it’s just that the season is over and he’s preparing for the 2024 season,” Angels general manager Perry Minasian said. He’ll be here for the last home game.” “We don’t know if it’s Tommy John surgery or something else,” he added.
This ends Ohtani’s sixth season in the majors and the 2023 season before he becomes a free agent. As a hitter, he batted .304 with 44 home runs, 95 RBIs, 102 runs scored, 20 doubles, a .412 on-base percentage, a .654 slugging percentage, and a 1.066 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) in 135 games, and as a pitcher, he went 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA in 23 starts and 167 strikeouts in 132 innings. In terms of Wins Above Replacement (WAR) alone, he ranks 6th as a hitter and 4th as a pitcher according to Baseball Reference, a majestic number that surpasses 10 despite being a designated hitter.
While he is slowly losing ground in the cumulative standings due to his season ending a month early, he will remain the American League’s home run leader. Currently, Ohtani’s 44 home runs are followed by Luis Robert (Chicago White Sox) with 35, Adolis Garcia (Texas Rangers) with 34, Rafael Devers (Boston Red Sox) and Aaron Judge (New York Yankees) with 32.
However, it’s unlikely that any of them will catch Ohtani’s home run total over the rest of the season. The next closest, Robert, has been in a batting slump, hitting just .232 with one home run in his last 15 games, so hitting nine in his remaining 14 games is a tall order. Third-place Garcia has been on the disabled list with a knee injury for the past nine days, and even if he returns on the 19th, his 11 homers in 13 games will be a challenge. Last year’s home run king, Judge, is also in a slump, batting .196 with two homers in his last 15 games, making 13 homers the rest of the way unlikely.
If he can hold on to the home run lead, Ohtani will make major league history as the first Japanese and Asian to lead the league in home runs. It would also be a first for Ichiro, who was never a home run hitter, and Hideki “Godzilla” Matsui (49).
Despite his lack of regular innings as a pitcher, many are predicting a second MVP award for Ohtani, who leads the American League in home runs, ties for first in triples, and leads in walks (through the end of play on Sunday). 메이저놀이터
“Mike Trout’s 2019 season is the only time in major league history that a player has won the MVP despite missing the final 10 or more games of the season,” MLB.com statistician Sarah Lance wrote on social media. “Ohtani will miss the Angels’ final 25 games and still win the MVP. It’s a testament to the ridiculous season he’s had,” he added tongue-in-cheek.
In addition to Verlander and Lance, MLB.com also said, “Ohtani is expected to win his second American League MVP,” adding, “Whether or not he receives the Tommy John Award, he likely won’t be throwing a ball in 2024. But his two-hit prowess will still earn him a record-breaking free agent contract.”