Actually, the major league season in 2021 was the Year of Shohei Ohtani.
It was an unprecedented campaign. And the numbers are just beginning to tell the whole story. Here are the 11 best moments from the Ohtani season.
1) The historical multi-faceted game
This is the defining moment of Ohtani’s Year: His first start of the season on April 4 against the White Sox, when he pitched and batted for the first time in the same game.
In that way, Ohtani became the first starting pitcher to hit second in the batting order since Jack Dunleavy did so in 1903. He was also only the third pitcher to hit in his start since 1976.
And the Japanese didn’t just pitch and hit. In the first inning, he shot 100 miles per hour and then, at bat, hit a 451-foot home run. He’s the only player in the Statcast era (since 2015) to hit a 100 mph fastball and hit a 110 mph or higher hitter in the same game — and it was in the same inning.
2) Surpassed “Godzilla”
On July 7, Ohtani hit his 32nd home run of the season, beating Hideki Matsui for the most home runs in a season by a Japanese major league hitter. Matsui had connected 31 for the 2004 Yankees.
3) All-Star Game, double-track
Ohtani made history again as the American League’s starting pitcher and leadoff hitter in the All-Star Game. In fact, he had already made history by being selected for the event as both a pitcher and a batter. Ohtani claimed victory as a pitcher by throwing a blank first inning, making him the first in the game’s annals to start on the mound, lead and win the game.
4) Victory Home Run
Of the 46 home runs Ohtani hit in 2021, this one might have been the biggest. On May 16, the Angels were down to their final out, trailing the Red Sox, 5-4, in the ninth inning at Fenway Park. Mike Trout was on first base. Ohtani was at the plate. And he turned on a 97 mph fastball from Red Sox closer Matt Barnes and hit a towering go-ahead home run down the right-field line, just fair inside Pesky’s Pole. The Angels won the game, 6-5.
5) He carried everything by himself
Ohtani did it all on July 2 against the Orioles at Angel Stadium. He hit two home runs to reach 30 this season and became only the third player in history (and the first in the American League) to have at least 30 home runs and 10 stolen bases in his team’s first 81 games. the others being the Dominicans Sammy Sosa (Cubs of 1998) and Albert Pujols (Cardinals of 2009).
Later, he won the game on his speed by stealing second base with two outs in the ninth inning and scoring on a single by Jared Walsh.
Ohtani’s 23rd and final season starter was Sept. 26 against the Mariners, who were still aiming for one of the Wild Cards. The Japanese threw 7.0 innings in a single run and struck out 10. Think of it like this: Only five others in history have hit 45 homers with 25 steals in a season: Alfonso Soriano (2006), Chipper Jones (1999), Cuban José Canseco (1998), Larry Walker (1997) and Barry Bonds. Neither of them pitched a single inning.
7) ** Hitting 40 home runs **
Ohtani was not only the first hitter to hit 40 home runs in 2021, but he also did it in one of his best games. In that game against the Tigers on Aug. 18, the multifaceted player threw 8.0 one-round innings and eight strikeouts to beat Detroit.
8) Duel with Soto at the Home Run Festival
Ohtani was by far the most publicized participant in the Home Run Festival during the All-Star Game. In the first round, he and Juan José Soto put on a show. After all, Soto prevailed, but Ohtani hit a 513-foot hit at Coors Field in passing.
9) Ohtani plays in the gardens
Ohtani was more of a “two-way” player. On May 11 against the Astros, he played in the outfield, as well as pitching and hitting. After 7.0 single-run innings and 10 strikeouts, he remained in the game as a right fielder. He is only the third player in the Modern Era (since 1900) to strike out 10 batters and then play another position on defense.
10) Ohtani steals home
Why not add a home robbery to Ohtani’s list of accomplishments? Facing the Yankees in Anaheim on August 31, Ohtani did so as part of a double-steal. When New York catcher Gary Sanchez shot to second, Ohtani went to third to home plate and with a perfect slip at the plate, overcame Colombian third baseman Giovanny Urshela’s shot to get safe.
11) Capping the dream season
Ohtani ended his historic season with a great Game 162. As a leadoff hitter, he hit his 46th home run of the year, giving him 100 RBIs for the season. In fact, there were many rounds that Ohtani surpassed in 2021: 40 home runs, 20 stolen bases, 100 RBIs, 100 runs scored, 100 innings pitched and 150 strikeouts. We have never seen such a season.
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Ohtani’s best 11 moments of 2021