MILES WHITTINGHAM WRITES — Prior to the 2021 MLB season, Angels fans just wanted to see their star Shohei Ohtani stay healthy and produce what he could. But no one expected him to do what hadn’t been done in centuries.
The Angels’ highly regarded two-way player has been the subject of widespread media attention since his debut in 2018. In his first year in the big leagues, he showed flashes of promise in the batter’s box and on the mound, winning Rookie of the Year in 2018. Yet Ohtani struggled to stay on the field for the two following seasons. Injuries, coupled with his inconsistency when healthy, led to doubt as to whether he could ever be a truly elite pitcher and hitter.
Then things changed. Shohei started to silence his critics early in the 2021 season. Having hit over 25 home runs and having an ERA (Earned Run Average) under 3.0, he was selected to his first All-Star team. In this way Ohtani made history, becoming the first player to be elected to the game as a pitcher and hitter.
In an All-Star Game, no one had ever seen an athlete quite like Shohei. He also took part in the league’s Home Run Derby in the same weekend.
Though the Angels struggled as a team in 2021, Ohtani was one of the few bright spots that kept fans returning to Angels Stadium. He continued his personal tear throughout the summer, winning American League Player of the Month in June and July. Before anyone knew it, Ohtani was breaking single-season records all around the baseball diamond, recording 100 strikeouts before August.
As his historic season wrapped up, Ohtani’s final home run tally was 46-close to breaking an Angels all-time record. Then in September, he was named Angels Player of the Year, with no one close to challenging him. And after that, Ohtani was nominated for the 2021 American League MVP, with the winner expected to be announced later this month.
This Japanese superstar athlete’s name has been in the headlines for years. Just now he seems to be living up to the hype. Will he continue to be the pride of his country? Or will he strike out? If so, will we have to wait centuries for another such star?