It makes sense, the way he’s going to be American League MVP, he put up the best season of any baseball player we’ve seen in over 100 years, and all of this was done with offense as the best part of his game. He is a top ten pitcher in the major leagues, but he is an even better hitter.
The Hank Aaron Award is an award given to the best overall offensive athlete in the Majors during the season. It is a player assigned to both the American League and the National League.
Shohei Ohtani was rightly chosen as a Hank Aaron Award finalist because of his 2021 appearance for the LA Angels.
Shohei Ohtani was in a LA Angels lineup that absolutely no one had to beat behind him. He was not protected at all Mike Trout went down after only 36 games, Anthony Rendon only played in 58, and Justin Upton was injured in late June and was never the same. Even Max Stassi was at IL a number of times.
Despite this, he still beat .257 / .372 / .592 (.965 OPS) with 46 home runs and 100 RBI. This home run total is third in the AL (just two bombs behind first), the percentage is among the top five in the AL, his slugging percentage is second in the American League (only nine points behind first), and his PPP was also number two in EEL.
He led the league in triples with eight, scoring 103 runs. He can strike at elite level anywhere in the lineup.
Many will wonder why he did not lead the league in several of these categories. But if these other players had to strike in lineups that were completely ravaged by injuries, they would also have worse numbers than Ohtani.
Angels’ lineup was so bad that teams just started walking him, and many times did not even try to hide it. They just wanted to send him on purpose first. He received the Barry Bonds treatment.
Except … it was even worse than the bond processing. Check this out:
If Ohtani actually had the chance to beat, he would be even better. That’s why this season was so impressive for him. Posting the stats he made while throwing didn’t have to throw him anything good to hit is ridiculously impressive.
Especially when you consider that none of these other finalists had to start 23 matches on the mound, and sacrifice the body, strength and energy they could have used for their offensive performance. Ohtani did that, and he was still one of the very best offensive players in the league.
The award is also about the overall best offensive artist. It includes who the players are as base runners. Ohtani was named by baseball leaders, scouts and executives as the best base runner in AL. His 26 stolen bases were in the top five in the American League.
It’s something that just keeps adding to his resume. He deserves to be in this position, and I’m glad to see him receive the recognition he deserves.