The Los Angeles Angels did not perform to expectations in 2021, largely due to injuries and inconsistent pitching. However, what kept the Angels as nightly must-see TV was Shohei Ohtani, who exploded onto the scene with perhaps the greatest individual season in MLB history.
Ohtani’s first three seasons were plagued by injury, limiting him to just a designated hitter in 2019 and 2020. But in 2021, the Angels and Ohtani mutually agreed to remove the handcuffs and let him play every day.
The results were better than anyone could have ever imagined, as Ohtani hit 46 home runs with a .965 OPS at the plate while amassing a 3.18 ERA and 156 strikeouts over 130.1 innings as a pitcher. This led to being an All-Star Game starter as both a pitcher and hitter, as well as a unanimous AL MVP award.
Ohtani taking home baseball’s most prestigious award — and doing so unanimously — was nominated for Top Sports Moment at the 2021 L.A. Sports Awards. While it did not win the fan vote, it did finish in the No. 2 spot out of 10 options.
The winner of this award, again via fan vote, was L.A. Lakers legend Kobe Bryant being posthumously inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Ohtani had one of the all-time great campaigns in 2021. And while all of the awards — and second place finishes — are certainly affirming of the work he did, he is looking ahead to 2022, where he has the chance to repeat his legendary production while attempting to lead the Angels to a postseason berth alongside a healthy roster.
Complete list of 2021 top L.A. Sports Moments
No. 1: Lakers icon Kobe Bryant posthumously inducted into Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame
No. 2: Angels two-way star Ohtani unanimously voted American League MVP
No. 3: UCLA men’s basketball team advances to Final Four
No. 5: L.A. Rams defeat Seattle Seahawks in NFC Wild Card round
No. 6: Allyson Felix becomes most-decorated American track & field Olympian
No. 7: L.A. Chargers quarterback Justin Herbet wins NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year
No. 8: USC Trojans men’s basketball team advances to Elite 8 for first time since 2001
No. 9: Angel City FC acquires Christen Press as very first player
No. 10: L.A. Clippers advance to Western Conference Finals for first time in franchise history