Two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani has been voted the Most Valuable Player in the American League for 2023, per an announcement from the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Corey Seager and Marcus Semien of the Rangers were second and third in the voting, respectively.
The news hardly comes as a surprise, with Ohtani having delivered another two-way season for the Angels in which the only precedent was himself. He made 23 starts as a pitcher, tossing 132 innings with an earned run average of 3.14. His 10.4% walk rate was a bit on the high side but he struck out 31.5% of batters faced. Among pitchers with at least 130 innings pitched on the year, only Spencer Strider punched out opponents at a greater rate.
As a hitter, he launched 44 home runs and drew walks at a 15.2% clip. His .304/.412/.654 batting line translated to a wRC+ of 180, indicating he was 80% better overall than the average hitter. He accomplished all of these things despite having his season cut short by injury. Due to some finger issues and then a torn UCL, he only tossed 1 1/3 innings after August 9 and not at all after August 23. He continued hitting but he later suffered an oblique strain and his last game as either a hitter or pitcher was September 3.
That didn’t matter as Ohtani had already racked up enough accomplishments to take home the award for a second time, the first coming in 2021. If it weren’t for Aaron Judge’s record-breaking 62 home runs last year, Ohtani would have gotten a hat trick. The BBWAA notes that this is the first time a player has won a unanimous MVP twice. The most unique baseball player of all time is now the most unique free agent of all time and is surely in line to break another record, or records, when he finally puts pen to paper.
Seager and Semien each had fine seasons in their own right, but had little chance to catch Ohtani here, though they have World Series rings to soften the blow. Seager hit 33 home runs and had a wRC+ of 169 while those numbers were 29 and 124 for Semien.
Other players receiving votes were Julio Rodríguez, Kyle Tucker, Yandy Díaz, Bobby Witt Jr., Gunnar Henderson, Adley Rutschman, José Ramírez, Gerrit Cole, Luis Robert Jr., Yordan Alvarez, Adolis García, Judge, Bo Bichette, J.P. Crawford, Cal Raleigh, Rafael Devers, Isaac Paredes, Sonny Gray, Alex Bregman and Josh Naylor.