For the most part, the Los Angeles Angels 2021 season was one to forget. Two of their superstars — Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon — spent most of the year on the IL, while pitching once again was a constant issue. However, Shohei Ohtani salvaged a tough year by putting together one of the greatest individual seasons in MLB history.
Ohtani was dominant in his first season as a true, full-time two-way player. There were no significant periods of time off, no major injuries, and the result was a season that this league will never forget.
A year like his comes with plenty of great individual moments. Here, we’ll look at the 10 we felt were the best to describe just how remarkable Ohtani was in 2021. All videos come courtesy of MLB Film Room.
No. 10: Ohtani steals two bases on two hits vs. Texas Rangers, Sep. 29
Ohtani had three games with two steals during his historic 2021 season, with one of the others appearing later on this list. When a player who pitches can beat out an infield single to the first baseman, steal second, take third on a bad throw, and later score, it has to be highlighted.
No. 9: Ohtani hits go-ahead three-run home run vs. Colorado Rockies, July 28
The Angels would ultimately win this game 8-7 behind this three-run homer from Ohtani. He also had another hit, two walks, and two runs scored.
No. 8: Ohtani shows two-way prowess in series vs. Detroit Tigers, June 17-19
Beyond these two home runs in one game, Ohtani was a dominant force in this four-game set with the Tigers. He pitched six innings of one-run baseball on Thursday, then hit four home runs from Friday-Sunday.
No. 7: Ohtani steals home vs. New York Yankees, Aug. 31
Shohei steals home on the double steal! 🙌
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 1, 2021
This was the second of Ohtani’s three two-steal games during the 2021 season. What puts it ahead of the others was this beautiful delayed double steal of home plate.
No. 6: Ohtani two home runs and game-winning run scored vs. Baltimore Orioles, July 2
The Angels completed a comeback win against the Orioles in part thanks to Ohtani. He hit two home runs and scored the game-winning run in the ninth inning off of a Jared Walsh base hit.
No. 5: Ohtani walked 13 times in four games, Sep. 22-25
With his 5th inning walk, #Angels Shohei Ohtani has now tied the MLB record for walks in a four-game span, with 13. Also done by Babe Ruth (1930), Bryce Harper (2016) and Yasmani Grandal (2021).
— Matt Birch (@MattBirch12) September 26, 2021
Ohtani set MLB records by getting on base 13 times in four games without ever putting a ball in play, a testament to his dominance as a hitter, and the weaknesses of the battered Angels lineups.
No. 4: Ohtani 8.0 IP, home run vs. Detroit Tigers, Aug. 18
Individual baseball games don’t get much better than this. Ohtani pitched eight lights out innings against the Tigers and topped it off by hitting a home run in a 3-1 Angels win. The opponent and lack of stakes prevented this from being in the top three.
No. 3: Ohtani at the All-Star Game
Ohtani was the winning pitcher for the American League after a perfect first inning on the mound in the All-Star Game. He also competed in the Home Run Derby the night before in a spectacle of an event.
No. 2: Ohtani first-pitch homer on pitching day vs. Chicago White Sox, April 4
The first moment where fans got the feeling that we may be witnessing something special came in the first swing of his first game as a pitcher in 2021. After a solid opening frame, he took the plate and belted a monster home run off Dylan Cease.
No. 1: Ohtani game-winning homer vs. Boston Red Sox, May 16
The defining moment of Ohtani’s season came at Fenway Park in the ninth inning. With two outs, Mike Trout got on base, allowing Ohtani to hit off Red Sox closer Matt Barnes. He roped a pitch around the pesky pole to give the Angels a 6-5 lead, and the win.