Shohei Ohtani fires up his Japan teammates with words of inspiration in the locker room before the WBC final against a star-studded U.S. lineup, saying, “You can’t overcome a team if you are star struck. We came here to surpass them and become champions. Let’s forget about admiration and just focus on winning.”
Japan captured its third WBC title and first since 2009. Ohtani was named MVP on his debut in the tournament. But instead of basking in the glory, Ohtani’s attention turns toward his next challenge.
Consecutive monthly MVP awards
May 31, 2023
Even top players suffer off years after competing in the WBC, but not Ohtani. By the end of May he racks up 15 home runs and heads into June, usually a successful month for him.
June 17, 2023
Ohtani says after hitting the 150th home run of his MLB career.
June 30, 2023
There was no stopping Ohtani as he carried the momentum into July.
July 27, 2023
Ohtani says he will “finish the job” after the eighth inning of the game in which he threw the first complete-game shutout of his major league career.
July 31, 2023
Continuing his strong batting and pitching performances, Ohtani is the AL's July MVP, too, and heads into the crucial final stage of the season amid rising expectations that he will lead MLB in home runs, an unprecedented achievement by a Japanese player. However, disaster strikes.
Right elbow injury
Aug. 3, 2023
He injured a ligament in his right elbow, that had been surgically repaired in 2018, wrecking his hopes of finishing the season as a two-way player.
(As of Aug. 23)
Ohtani’s body began to show signs of wear and tear from late June and substitutions continued through July following cramping on the middle finger of his left hand. Pitching and hitting as a two-way player without any rest after the WBC appeared to take its toll.
Aug. 31, 2023
Even so, in August, Ohtani reached double figures in both wins and home runs for the second straight year, a feat not even Babe Ruth had achieved.
Quest for home run glory
Race for the AL home run title
Most home runs in a season by a Japanese player
Ohtani’s home run tally is in comparison way beyond the previous achievements by Japanese players in the majors and former New York Yankees star Hideki Matsui had words of praise for his compatriot, saying, “No matter what Ohtani does, no one is surprised. That is what he is."
The key to producing home runs on a mass scale lies in Ohtani’s distinctive batting technique.
(Based on an interview with Associate Professor Takashi Kawamura of the University of Tsukuba)
OPS serves as an indicator of a formidable hitter, calculated as the sum of on-base percentage and slugging average. Meanwhile, WAR is a metric that quantifies a player's contribution to their team's success. The current American League standings are provided in parentheses.
Oct. 1, 2023
Throughout the season, Ohtani exhibited an unwavering commitment to self-improvement and an unconquerable spirit.
2nd American League
Most Valuable Player Award
Nov. 16, 2023
Shohei Ohtani poses for a photo with his dog in Newport Beach, California, prior to the announcement of him winning the 2023 American League Most Valuable Player Award on Nov. 16, 2023. (MLB Photos/Getty/Kyodo)
Nov. 16, 2023
Ohtani put up unparalleled numbers in hitting and pitching, despite missing the end of the season due to injuries. The voting by the 30 eligible members of the Baseball Writers Association of America in each league is conducted before the playoffs.
2023 MVP American and National League winners
American League MVP
Wins 1st home run title, named MVP for 2nd time
National League MVP
Ronald Acuña Jr. (Atlanta Braves)
First player to hit 40 home runs and record 70 stolen bases in a single season
Comparison of main Ohtani's award results in 2021 and 2023 (As of Nov.16)
Sept. 19, 2023
According to a statement by Ohtani's agent, Nez Balelo, he will exclusively hit in 2024 and will not return to the pitcher's mound until the following season, leaving the baseball world waiting with bated breath to see the 29-year-old star's next move.