Since the beginning of last season, Shohei Ohtani has introduced himself to the baseball world as a one-of-a-kind talent. He is a true unicorn in Major League Baseball, and on Wednesday against the New York Yankees, he crushed his 30th home run of the season, etching himself on another line in the record books.
With the score settled at 2-0 in favor of the Yankees in the sixth inning at Angel Stadium, Gerrit Cole was in a bit of trouble with two on and one-out and Ohtani at the plate. With just 71 pitches up to that point, Ohtani stepped in and uncorked a 98-mph mislocated fastball over the centerfield wall.
It was Ohtani’s second go-ahead homer of the series with the Yankees, and when up against the game’s best talent, he shined brightest clubbing his 30th homer of the season to give the Angels the lead. With 10 wins as a starting pitcher, his long ball put him alone in MLB history as the first player in history to achieve both in a single season, a record that Ohtani was blown away by, via Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“I’m simply honored, happy and humbled to hear that,” Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara, when told of his accomplishments. “But I just want to stay healthy and finish strong.”
The Angels took 2-of-3 from the Yankees and flexed their muscle with some impressive and timely home runs. This wasn’t a David vs. Goliath matchup, but given both teams are separated by many miles in the standings, it was more than a regular series.
In terms of WAR, Aaron Judge(8.3) continues to lead Ohtani(7.3), but that gap shouldn’t discredit the incredible encore performance the Angels’ two-way megastar is putting on.
American League MVP race
The A.L. MVP race has been a two-man show for quite some time as Jose Ramirez hasn’t built up the resume this season to keep pace with Ohtani and Judge. What the Yankees outfielder is doing at the plate is a breath of fresh air for those longing for the days of power-hitter-dominant baseball.
Ohtani is just doing it all, on the mound and at the plate for a team playing for nothing but the future and to play spoiler for projected playoff teams.
If they continue their efforts as they did against the Yankees, they’ll be quite the pest for the rest of September.