Shohei Ohtani’s extraordinary talent and remarkable performances have etched his name in baseball history. The Los Angeles Angels’ sensation has become the first player to win the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award unanimously not once but twice. Ohtani’s unanimous victory in the American League (AL) MVP race comes after an exceptional two-way season that showcased his versatile skills as a pitcher and hitter.
Ohtani’s 2023 MVP triumph is an impressive accomplishment considering that he was unable to pitch for most of the last two months due to injury. Still, he captured all 30 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, demonstrating his undeniable impact on the game. The 29-year-old Japanese superstar led the major leagues with 9.0 FanGraphs wins above replacement (WAR) and excelled with both his arm and bat.
As a hitter, Ohtani boasted a slash line of .304/.412/.654 in 599 plate appearances. He led the AL in home runs with 44 and topped the majors in OPS with an impressive 1.066. In addition to his power, Ohtani showcased his speed, stealing 20 bases. Meanwhile, his pitching prowess was evident in his 23 starts, where he compiled a 10-5 record with a 3.14 ERA. Ohtani struck out 167 batters and exhibited excellent control by issuing only 55 walks in 132 innings.
Reflecting on his consecutive unanimous MVP wins, Ohtani humbly acknowledged his rivals and congratulated them on their achievements. Despite facing tough competition, Ohtani’s dedication and hard work paid off, solidifying his status as one of the game’s premier talents. His journey from Japan to the United States has been marred by injuries, but Ohtani’s resilience and determination have allowed him to overcome obstacles and excel in multiple roles.
In the National League (NL), Ronald Acuna Jr. made his mark by securing his first MVP award. The Atlanta Braves’ dynamic right fielder had an outstanding season, stunning fans with his impressive power and speed. Acuna’s versatility and accomplishments earned him the honor, making him the first member of the 40-70 club, combining 41 home runs and 73 stolen bases in a single season.
Acuna demonstrated his ability to impact games from the leadoff spot, leading the NL in critical offensive categories. The 25-year-old phenom led the league in on-base percentage (.416), OPS (1.012), hits (217), and runs scored (149). He finished the season with a batting average of .337, only trailing Luis Arraez for the major league lead.
Acuna’s journey to becoming an MVP began with his Rookie of the Year award in 2018 and a fifth-place finish in NL MVP voting the following year. However, a torn ACL in the middle of the 2021 season halted his progress and forced him to watch from the sidelines as his team won the World Series. The setback affected his performance in 2022, but Acuna used the offseason to improve his conditioning and refine his swing mechanics.
The adjustments Acuna made, including working with Fernando Tatis Sr., resulted in a more disciplined approach at the plate. His OPS never dropped below .900 throughout the regular season, showcasing his consistency and growth as a player. Acuna’s resurgence proved that his talent and determination could overcome adversity.
While both Ohtani and Acuna have achieved remarkable success, uncertainties loom on the horizon. Ohtani’s recent injury, a torn ulnar collateral ligament, required a hybrid version of Tommy John surgery. Despite undergoing a potentially career-altering procedure, Ohtani remains optimistic about his recovery and plans to come back stronger for the 2024 season. His unique ability as a two-way player has attracted attention from teams across the league, leading to speculation about a potentially record-breaking free-agent contract in the range of $500 million.
Acuna, on the other hand, faces the challenge of sustaining his performance and impact as he moves forward in his career. At a young age, he has already established himself as one of baseball’s brightest stars. With the proper training and continued growth, Acuna has the potential to dominate the league for years to come. His focus on refining his skills and maintaining his conditioning will be crucial to his long-term success.
Shohei Ohtani and Ronald Acuna Jr.’s unanimous MVP victories signify their exceptional contributions to the game. Ohtani’s dual role as an elite pitcher and hitter has revolutionized baseball, while Acuna’s explosive power and all-around skills have established him as a force to be reckoned with. The future holds immense promise for both players, and fans eagerly anticipate witnessing their continued excellence on the diamond.