Shohei Ohtani 토스카지노 (29-LA Angels) has been in top form at the plate this season. However, he is in a situation where he may become the “King of Nothing.
“Even if Ohtani hits 60 home runs, he is in danger of not winning the title if he is traded,” the Japanese outlet Baseball King wrote on the 21st.
Ohtani is on pace for a career-high season at the plate this year. Through 21 games, he’s batting .306 with 35 home runs, 76 RBIs, 11 doubles, and a 1.075 OPS. He’s already surpassed his home run total from last year (35), even though he hasn’t played 100 games yet. He is now on pace to reach the 40-homer plateau for the second time in as many years, following a 46-homer campaign in 2021.
In the meantime, Ohtani remains the best hitter in the majors. He already leads the league in home runs and triples (7), slugging percentage (0.678), and OPS (1.075). At this rate, he’s on pace to hit 58 home runs for the season, and if he picks up the pace a bit more, he could reach the 60-homer plateau for the first time in his career. Both 50 and 60 home runs have never been reached by a Japanese hitter in the major leagues.
Ohtani will also try to repeat as American League MVP for the second time in two years. In 2021, Ohtani was the league’s unanimous MVP after hitting 46 home runs as a hitter and going 9-0 with a 3.18 ERA as a pitcher. No Asian player has ever won more than one Major League Baseball season MVP award, but Ohtani could challenge the myth.
Shohei Ohtani watches a pitch after hitting a home run. /AFPBBNews=News1
However, there is a possible twist. That is whether or not Ohtani will be traded. Ohtani, who will become a free agent at the end of this season, is being courted by several teams. MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball, even listed nine hypothetical trade scenarios today, including some of the biggest names in baseball, such as the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees.
A move to the American League, like Ohtani’s current team (the Los Angeles Angels), would be fine. However, if you move to a National League team like the Dodgers, it’s a different story. According to Major League Baseball rules, record titles are combined for both leagues.
If Ohtani were to move to the National League at this point and add 25 more home runs to reach 60 for the season, he would still be the 35-homer hitter in the American League and the 25-homer hitter in the National League. Ohtani is currently trailing American League home run leader Lewis Roberts (White Sox, 28) by a wide margin, but it’s possible that Roberts could overtake him in the National League.
Mark McGwire with Oakland in 1997. /AFPBBNews=News1
In fact, there have been similar cases in the past in Major League Baseball. Mark McGwire, 60, hit 34 home runs for Oakland in the American League in 1997 before moving to National League team St. Louis, where he hit 24. He went on to lead the majors with 58 home runs, but never won a title.
However, the voting MVP is a different story. In 1984, Rick Sutcliffe struggled with a 5.15 ERA for Cleveland (American League), but after being traded to the Chicago Cubs (National League) in June, he went 16-1 with a 2.69 ERA for the rest of the season. Sutcliffe was a unanimous winner of the National League Cy Young Award.
Of course, that was when Ohtani was traded. As of the 21st, the Angels are 49-48 on the season (.505 winning percentage), good for third place in the American League West and the sixth wild card spot. They are five games out of the third wild-card spot, but it is still possible. So if the Angels go for Winnowing instead of a trade, Ohtani could easily win the home run title.