Shohei Ohtani of Oshu, Japan made Japanese sports history on Tuesday by becoming the very first Japanese athlete to be named the Associated Press Male Athlete of the Year according to Mike Chiari of Bleacher Report. There is no doubt that Ohtani has become a generational player, as he is an exceptional hitter and pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels in Major League Baseball.
This past season, Ohtani was named the American League Most Valuable Player. He was selected to represent the American League not only as a pitcher, but a hitter as well. In 2021, Ohtani batted .257 with 46 home runs and 100 runs batted in, and led Major League Baseball with eight triples. He also scored 103 runs, and had 138 hits, 26 doubles, 26 stolen bases, 96 walks, 318 total bases, a .372 on base percentage, and a .592 slugging percentage.
On the mound, Ohtani had a record of nine wins and two losses, with an earned run average of 3.18. In 23 starts and 130 1/3 innings pitched, Ohtani gave up 98 hits, 46 earned runs, and 44 walks, along with 156 strikeouts. He also had a WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) of 1.09.
In this last few years, people have compared Ohtani to Babe Ruth. What Ohtani has been able to accomplish is better than Ruth. The Japanese sensation posted All-Star caliber statistics offensively and on the pitching mound that were better than Ruth’s finest season as a multi-positional phenom with the Boston Red Sox in 1919.
This is the second straight year that the Associated Press has honoured a Japanese athlete. In 2020, Naomi Osaka of Osaka, Japan was the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year. She was selected for winning the 2020 U.S.Open Final, where she beat Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3.
The 2021 Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year was women’s basketball player Candace Parker of St. Louis, Missouri. Parker guided the Chicago Sky to a WNBA Championship, where she averaged 13.3 points per game.