After winning the 2021 American League Most Valuable Player award, the Los Angeles Angels had high expectations once again for two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani.
The 28-year-old took a slight step back as a hitter, but took a massive leap forward as a pitcher, which once again made him the game’s most impactful player. Overall, he missed out on a repeat MVP Award due to the historic season from New York Yankees’ slugger Aaron Judge, but he was still named to the 2022 All-MLB Team.
It was the second straight season Ohtani made the list as both a pitcher (First Team All-MLB) and as a hitter (Second Team All-MLB). He’s been an All-MLB Team selection four times in his career, which is tied with Los Angeles Dodgers first basemen Freddie Freeman, who has been selected in all four years of voting for this honor.
On the season, Ohtani hit .273/.356/.519 with 34 homers, 30 doubles, 11 stolen bases, and 95 RBIs in 157 games, and on the mound, he went 15-9 with a 2.33 ERA and 219 strikeouts over 166 innings in 28 starts this season. As a pitcher, he posted a 5.6 WAR and as a hitter he contributed for 3.8 wins, giving him an overall WAR of 9.4, which trailed only Judge’s 11.4.
He was also named the winner of the Edgar Martínez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award, making it the second straight season he earned the honor. Ohtani became the first player to win it in back-to-back seasons since Hall of Famer David Ortiz won it five straight years.
On the mound, Ohtani finished fourth in the AL Cy Young voting, but he saw his ERA drop by nearly a full run and his FIP by more than a run from his mark during the 2021 season while increasing his strikeout rate by more than one per nine innings (10.77 in 2021 to 11.87 in 2022). He additionally cut his walk rate and home run rates.
It would have been hard to expect Ohtani to improve much after his 2021 season, but he somehow amazed everyone even more.
Shohei Ohtani 2022 highlight
Ohtani’s best start of the season came on June 22 against the Kansas City Royals in a 5-0 victory when he pitched eight innings, allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out 13 hitters. It was his season-high in strikeouts, and one of 10 games where he struck out 10 or more hitters, and one of three where he pitched eight innings.
His best day at the plate came one day earlier against the Royals, when he went 3-for-6 at the plate with two home runs and eight RBI. Despite his best efforts, the Angels lost 12-11 in 11 innings.
The 2023 season will arguably be the most important one yet for the Angels and Ohtani. The generational star is set to become a free agent after the season, and he has stated his main goal is to win, but the Angels have not presented him with that opportunity.
If the Angels aren’t competitive, Ohtani may be in his final months with the club. But even if they reach the playoffs in 2023, they will have to prove to him they can do it consistently and beat out some other clubs, such as the Dodgers and New York Mets in free agency.
The Angels plan to use Ohtani on the mound as much as possible, which could help them be more competitive, and they will once again need his bat to help carry the offense.
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