Angels’ Shohei Ohtani & Phillies’ Bryce Harper Win MVP Awards
After an amazing season, Shohei Ohtani and Bryce Harper have been named the Most Valuable Players of the American and National leagues respectively. Harper earned the honor for the second time and Ohtani won it the first time,
Ohtani received all 30 first-place votes and 420 points in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
“American fans, the USA baseball, is more accepting and welcoming to the whole two-way idea compared to when I first started in Japan, so it made the transition a lot easier for me,” Ohtani said through a translator. “I’m very thankful for that. MVP is something I was shooting for. I think every player is, as long as they’re playing baseball professionally.”
Ohtani won AL Rookie of the Year in 2018 after leaving the Pacific League’s Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters to sign with the Los Angeles Angels. This year he became the first two-way starter in the history of the All-Star Game, which began in 1933.
Ohtani batted .257 with 46 homers, 100 RBIs, and a .965 OPS as the Angels’ full-time designated hitter, and went 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 23 pitching starts with 156 strikeouts and 44 walks in 130 one-third innings. He averaged 95.6 mph with his fastball, 28th in the major leagues among qualified pitchers, and had a 93.6 mph exit velocity at the plate, which ranked sixth among qualified batters.
Harper received 17 of 30 first-place votes and 348 points from a separate panel. Harper overcame getting hit on the left cheek with a 96.9 mph pitch from Génesis Cabrera of the St. Louis Cardinals on April 28, a ball that ricocheted off Harper’s left wrist. He hit .211 with three RBIs in May, then went on the injured list between May 22 and June 5.
“I was, ‘Oh, I’m great. I’m fine.’ I’m pressing my face, `I’m good and I’m ok to get back,′ not knowing that maybe it was a little bit too soon for myself,” Harper said. “I had to take a break and understand that my wrist was still hurt, my face and my mental state probably wasn’t the greatest.”
He finished with a .309 average and 35 homers for Philadelphia. The 29-year-old slugger led the majors with a .465 slugging percentage and 1.044 OPS, tied for the lead with 42 doubles and had 84 RBIs.
Harper was a unanimous MVP winner with Washington in 2015 and became the fifth player to win MVPs for different teams after Jimmie Foxx, Frank Robinson, Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez.
“This one just felt a little bit different,” Harper said. “I think being a little bit older, a little bit more mature, being able to have the teammates I do, have the family now that I do with my kids.”
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