The 27-year-old superstar broke into the Majors in 2018, and expectations were lofty.
He rose to the occasion by winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award that season, but shortly thereafter, he dealt with a couple of injury-riddled campaigns, and it seemed like a lot of fans gave up on him.
That was a mistake.
Ohtani is proving in 2021 that every bit of the pre-2018 hype was warranted.
Shohei Ohtani is the face of baseball right now and it’s a beautiful thing.
— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) July 12, 2021
He is currently the odds-on favorite to be named the AL MVP in 2021, and it’s hard to disagree when you consider everything that he has accomplished this year.
Ohtani is becoming the face of baseball.
Here’s why he already has the award locked up.
Like it or not, narrative matters to media members when it comes time to vote for the end-of-season awards.
And Ohtani has one of the best narratives on his side in recent memory: being the second coming of Babe Ruth.
Two-way players in baseball are rarer than gold, and there are very few storylines cooler than that.
But let’s be clear: This discussion about narrative isn’t meant to diminish anything Ohtani has accomplished.
He is clearly the most deserving player for the award regardless of narrative.
It’s just the cherry on top.
Beyond Narrative, He Simply Deserves It
Like we said already, narrative is part of it, but let’s not act like Ohtani doesn’t deserve the award.
Most baseball fans alive today have never witnessed a season like the one Ohtani is currently having.
Just for kicks, let’s run through some of his accomplishments so far.
- He is batting .279 with a whopping 1.062 OPS.
- He leads the league in home runs (33), triples (4), slugging (.698), and total bases (210).
- As a pitcher, he has a 3.49 ERA, 3.57 FIP, and 1.20 WHIP across 13 starts.
- He has fanned 87 batters in 67.0 innings.
- He is on pace for an overall WAR of 10.2.
- He was named to the AL All-Star team as both a pitcher and a hitter.
- He is participating in the Home Run Derby.
- He is the starting pitcher for the AL.
Angels star Shohei Ohtani will be the American League All-Star team starting pitcher and bat leadoff as designated hitter less than 24 hours after competing in the Home Run Derby as the No. 1 seed.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 12, 2021
Ohtani does everything at an elite level.
He is the definition of value.
Frankly, it’s hard to articulate exactly how ridiculous Ohtani’s abilities are.
The best argument for Ohtani to win MVP can be reduced to this: From a value perspective, he packs two seasons’ worth of production into one.
He Is Must-See TV
Everyone wants to see the game grow, and Ohtani draws eyeballs.
From his league-leading barrel rate to his electric approach on the mound, Ohtani is one of the flashiest players around.
When a guy is capable of tossing seven lights-out innings one day then homering twice the next, that’s appointment television.
It’s also great for kids to get exposed to a talent like Ohtani, because it encourages youngsters to keep as many doors open as possible as it pertains to pitching/hitting.
Why choose just one?
It’s a safe bet that Ohtani is going to be a trend-setter.
In a decade or so, we could see a handful of two-way players dominating the league.