Angels News: Joe Maddon Says Shohei Ohtani MVP Race Is ‘Not Even Close’
Shohei Ohtani, 2021 Season
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani is doing things that no one in the modern era of baseball has ever seen. Angels manager Joe Maddon — who has been in the Majors as a coach since 1994 — has seen all types of players, but never someone like Ohtani.

The Angels star bolstered his 2021 resume with another gem on the mound Monday evening. Against the Colorado Rockies, Ohtani gave seven innings of work as a pitcher. In those seven innings, he allowed just five hits and one run while walking zero and striking out five. It was one of his more impressive outings, and he managed to pair it with a 1-for-4 day at the plate via an RBI single.

When discussing the 2021 American League MVP race after the game, Maddon didn’t hesitate to endorse Ohtani. Not only did he say that Ohtani should win, he made it clear that no one is even in the same league as him right now, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:

“I know there are other guys having good years, but you have to stop and analyze what’s going on here,” Maddon said. “There’s nobody who comes close to what he’s doing. It’s way imbalanced. To me, it’s not even close. When people talk about it being close, it’s not.

“What he’s doing is so unique, so different. To compare him to anyone else, you just can’t.”

Ohtani, however, took a much more humble approach while discussing his goals for the rest of the season.

“It’s a huge honor and I’m really happy to hear MVP talk about me, but right now I haven’t been able to finish as a hitter and pitcher in the full season, so the focus is staying healthy and finishing strong,” Ohtani said through his interpreter. “If the award comes at the end, that’s the best scenario.”

There’s almost no doubt that should Ohtani finish the remainder of the season healthy, he would be the frontrunner for MVP. As a batter, he’s posting a line of .277/.361/.679 with a league-leading 35 home runs. As a pitcher, he has a 3.04 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP over 15 starts.

Ohtani is dominating thus far and he’s doing it on high volume as well. Hopefully, with just two months left in the season, he and the Angels can turn that into more consistent winning. The playoffs remain the ultimate goal for this team.

Ohtani breaking through short slump

Right after the All-Star break, one that Ohtani called exhausting, he struggled mightily as a batter. Through six games, he was batting just 4-for-24 with 14 strikeouts. However, an off-day from Maddon may have been exactly what he needed, as he’s batting 5-for-11 with a home run, two doubles, and two singles in the games since.

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