Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani redefined the normal limitations of a baseball player during the 2021 season. Having a player both pitch and hit is rare enough, but no one — except the legendary Babe Ruth — has ever come close to hitting and pitching at the level that Ohtani did this season.
At the plate, Ohtani hit 46 home runs — third in MLB — to go along with 100 RBIs, eight triples, 26 stolen bases, and incredible advanced metrics. As a hitter alone, he amassed nearly a 5.0 WAR, which was among the best in baseball.
He was arguably a top-20 pitcher as well, racking up a 3.18 ERA, a 1.090 WHIP, and 156 strikeouts over 130.1 innings. His season was not just historic, but one of the greatest individual seasons of all time.
Because of this, MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred announced that Ohtani would be the 16th recipient of the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award.
The Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award is an honor that is given out at the sole discretion of the MLB Commissioner. This means that there is not an annual winner, but rather an award is only given out when something truly historic happens.
Ohtani signals the 16th time this award has been given out since its inception in the year 1998. The Angels star is the first winner in Manfred’s tenure and the first winner since 2014, when Derek Jeter and Vin Scully each received this honor.
Beyond Jeter, Scully, and now Ohtani, some prior winners include Ken Griffey Jr., Rachel Robinson — wife of Jackie Robinson — Roberto Clemente, Ichiro Suzuki, and the entire 2001 Seattle Mariners team that won 116 games. The first ever winners were Cal Ripken Jr., Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa, all in 1998.
From the previous winners list, this award is not meant to celebrate just single-season achievement or career achievement. Rather, it’s anything that the Commissioner feels is historic enough to be celebrated. Ohtani’s 2021 season can absolutely be described that way.
As the awards flood in for Ohtani, he remains focused on next season as he tries to repeat this historic effort on an Angels team that finally should be ready to compete.
Ohtani named Silver Slugger finalist
The only other official MLB award that has named finalists is the Silver Slugger award, which celebrates the best pure hitters at each position in each league.
Ohtani was named a finalist for the American League designated hitter position, alongside Yordan Alvarez, Giancarlo Stanton, Joey Gallo, and Nelson Cruz.