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Angels' Shohei Ohtani receives rare MLB award handed out for first time since 2014

Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Baseball

HOUSTON — Shohei Ohtani made a World Series appearance this year after all.

Before Game 1 on Tuesday night, Ohtani was honored with the Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award for his unprecedented two-way performance this season.

The 27-year-old Angels star became the 16th recipient of the honor, which was first handed out in 1998, and the first to be given the award since Rob Manfred became commissioner in 2015.

"Over the next few years, I know that there are going to be many, many awards and accolades that come your way," Manfred said during a news conference at Minute Maid Park, with Ohtani by his side. "But I felt that 2021 was so special that it was important to recognize the historic achievement."

Ohtani became one of the biggest stories in baseball when he hit 46 home runs and drove in 100 runs in addition to posting a 3.18 earned-run average and 156 strikeouts in 23 starts as a pitcher.

He became the first player to be selected to the MLB All-Star Game as both a hitter and pitcher and performed feats that had last been achieved by Babe Ruth.

 

It wasn't enough to help the injury-plagued Angels reach the playoffs, but it made Ohtani the clear-cut favorite for most valuable player in the American League, along with other awards he is likely to win in the offseason.

So, less than an hour before the World Series got underway, the league revealed it would be making a surprise announcement. And Ohtani walked into the stadium in an all-black suit, smiling as Manfred presented him with a gold trophy that hadn't been handed out since 2014.

"This award is not given out every year, so I know how special it is," Ohtani said through his interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara. "I'm not fully sure if I really deserve it, but since Mr. Manfred's going to give it to me, I'm going to accept it."

With a laugh, Manfred chimed in: "He does deserve it. I'm pretty sure about that."

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