Shohei Ohtani wins 2023 AL MVP: Two-way star wins second award unanimously ahead of unprecedented free agency
Major League Baseball handed out two final pieces of hardware on Thursday night with the announcement of this year's Most Valuable Player Award winners. Free-agent two-way player Shohei Ohtani, most recently with the Los Angeles Angels, took home the honors in the American League over Texas Rangers infielders Corey Seager and Marcus Semien. Ohtani's honor was unanimous for the second time, the first player to do so in MLB history.
For those unfamiliar with how MLB's official awards work, ballots are cast by the Baseball Writers Association of America at the conclusion of the regular season. The playoffs, then, are given no consideration in voting. Earlier this week, MLB and the BBWAA announced the winners in these other categories:
• Monday, Nov. 13: Gunnar Henderson and Corbin Carroll named Rookies of the Year;
• Tuesday, Nov. 14: Skip Schumaker and Brandon Hyde named Managers of the Year;
Ohtani, 29, is now a two-time MVP Award winner, having previously received the honor back in 2021. Ohtani also finished second in MVP voting in 2022, meaning that he narrowly missed becoming the second player in MLB history to win three consecutive MVP Awards. (The first/only being Barry Bonds.)
The former Angel batted .304/.412/.654 (184 OPS+) with 44 home runs and 95 RBI in 599 trips to the plate this season. He started 23 times as a pitcher, amassing a 3.14 ERA (142 ERA+) and a 3.04 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His overall contributions were estimated by Baseball Reference to be worth 10 Wins Above Replacement.
Ohtani's counting statistics would have grown more impressive had he remained healthy all season. Instead, he suffered a torn UCL that necessitated surgery. He will not be able to pitch during the 2024 season as a result. He also suffered a late-season oblique injury that ended his year as a hitter.
This marks the seventh time an Angels player has won the MVP Award. Of course, Ohtani was already a member of a club that includes Mike Trout (2014, 2016, 2019), Vladimir Guerrero (2004), and Don Baylor (1979).
Seager and Semien can both take solace in knowing they won something this fall -- a World Series championship. Seager, the World Series MVP, batted .327/.390/.623 (170 OPS+) with 33 home runs and 96 RBI during the regular season. He was estimated to have notched 6.9 Wins Above Replacement. Semien, meanwhile, batted .276/.348/.478 (122 OPS+) with 29 home runs and 100 RBI. He finished with 7.4 Wins Above Replacement.
This marks the first time in BBWAA voting history (since 1931) that both MVP awards were won unanimously, as Ronald Acuña Jr. took home the honors in the National League.