Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani became the first Japanese in 20 years to be named most valuable player in the majors when he claimed the American League honor Nov. 18, fetching all 30 first-place votes in the balloting from journalists.
Ohtani and Ichiro Suzuki, in 2001, are the only Japanese players to receive a Major League Baseball MVP award, with the winner in each league determined through a vote of eligible members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America at the end of each season.
The 27-year-old is coming off a season in which he was the first National or American league player in more than 100 years to emulate the pitching and hitting feats of legendary American Babe Ruth.
“I’m really happy. The MVP was something I was shooting for, obviously,” Ohtani said via a translator. “I think anyone is, as long as they are playing baseball professionally. … But I was more appreciative of the fact that American fans, USA baseball, were more accepting, welcoming of the whole two-way idea compared to when I first started in Japan.”
He said winning the MVP “unanimously makes it that much more special and helps me get more motivated to keep on putting up good numbers next season.” (Kyodo, AFP-Jiji)