Shohei Ohtani of the Angels is greeted in the dugout after he hit a home run against Seattle Mariners on Oct. 3. Ohtani was unanimiously voted American League MVP for a two-way season not seen since Babe Ruth. Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

NEW YORK — Shohei Ohtani’s two-way season was so incredible, MVP voters filled out the top of their ballots only one way.

Ohtani was unanimously chosen as the American League MVP on Thursday for a hitting and pitching display not seen since Babe Ruth, and Bryce Harper earned the National League honor for the second time.

Ohtani received all 30 first-place votes and 420 points in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Ohtani batted .257 with 46 homers, 100 RBI and a .965 OPS as the Los Angeles 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 1/3 innings. It was the first full season on the mound for the 27-year-old right-hander since Tommy John surgery in 2019.

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, according to MLB Statcast.

“MVP is something I was shooting for,” Ohtani said through a translator. “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 Angels. This year, he became the first two-way starter in the history of the All-Star Game, which began in 1933.

He called that the highlight of his season.

“It was my first one and I got to play with a lot of players that I’ve always watched on TV,” Ohtani said. “That was a great experience.”

Ohtani became the second Japanese MVP winner after Seattle outfielder Ichiro Suzuki in 2001.

“I’ve dealt with a lot of doubters, especially from my days in Japan, but tried not to let that get to me, let the pressure get to me,” Ohtani said. “I just wanted to have fun and see what kinds of numbers I could put up and what type of performance I could put up.”

Orioles Phillies Baseball

Philadelphia’s Bryce Harper won his second National League MVP. Matt Slocum/Associated Press

Harper received 17 of 30 first-place votes and 348 points from a separate panel. Washington outfielder Juan Soto was second with six firsts and 274 points, and San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. was third with two firsts and 244 points.

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. Tears came to his eyes when he learned he had won, and he talked about what he had overcome.

“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.

He hit .211 with three RBI in May, then went on the injured list between May 22 and June 5.

“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,” Harper said.

He finished with a .309 average and 35 homers for Philadelphia. The 29-year-old slugger led the majors with a .615 slugging percentage and 1.044 OPS, tied for the lead with 42 doubles and had 84 RBI.

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.”

Harper earned a $500,000 bonus for winning MVP in his third season of a $330 million, 13-year contract.

He thanked his personal chef, Dan.

“Knowing I wasn’t going to have an empty stomach any night,” Harper said. “Having family dinner each night is big for us. So after a game, no matter if I’m 0 for 4 or 4 for 4, no matter if we lost or if we won, and everybody’s happy, everybody’s sad, I was getting home and we were going to have dinner together each night. And being able to sit down with your family and have dinner kind of puts things in perspective.”

Soto, a first-time All-Star at age 23, hit .313 with 29 homers and 95 RBIs. He led the majors with 145 walks and a .465 on-base percentage.

Tatis, 22, led the NL with 42 home runs, hitting .282 with 97 RBIs.

Toronto first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was second in the AL vote with 29 seconds and 269 points, and Blue Jays second baseman Marcus Semien was third with 232 points. Kansas City catcher Salvador Perez got the other second-place vote.

Guerrero, 22, tied for the major league lead with 48 homers, batting .311 with 111 RBIs. His father, Vladimir, won the 2004 AL MVP award with the Anaheim Angels.

Semien batted .265 with 42 homers and 102 RBIs. The 31-year-old is among the top free agents this offseason.

This marked the first time since the Chicago Cubs’ Andre Dawson and Toronto’s George Bell in 1987 that neither MVP’s team made the playoffs.

LABOR TALKS: While insisting Major League Baseball is focused on reaching a labor deal, Commissioner Rob Manfred signaled that owners likely will lock out players if the current contract expires Dec. 1 without a new agreement.

Baseball had eight work stoppages from 1972-95, but there has been labor peace since a 7 1/2-month strike began in August 1994 and forced the cancellation of the World Series for the first time in 90 years.

“We’ve been down this path. We locked out in ’89-’90,” Manfred said. “I don’t think ’94 worked out too great for anybody. I think when you look at other sports, the pattern has become to control the timing of the labor dispute and try to minimize the prospect of actual disruption of the season. That’s what it’s about. It’s avoiding doing damage to the season.”

Talks have been going on since spring but have lacked the momentum toward an agreement that characterized negotiations that led to deals in 2006, 2011 and 2016.

In other topics at the owners’ meetings:

• The Rays were given permission in June 2019 to explore splitting their home games between Tampa Bay and Montreal after the expiration of their lease at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, which runs through the 2027 season.

• MLB gave the Athletics permission in May to explore relocation options if they are unable to secure a new waterfront ballpark in Oakland.

• MLB is moving toward a new rub for baseballs that will lead to tackier surfaces, which many pitchers have sought, especially the crackdown on unauthorized substances began June 21.

 

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