ANAHEIM -- With less than a week until the end of the season, Shohei Ohtani continues to bolster his case for the American League Rookie of the Year award.The 24-year-old Japanese star launched a 428-foot solo shot to put the Angels on the board in the first inning of Monday
ANAHEIM -- With less than a week until the end of the season, Shohei Ohtani continues to bolster his case for the American League Rookie of the Year award.
The 24-year-old Japanese star launched a 428-foot solo shot to put the Angels on the board in the first inning of Monday night's 5-4 series-opening win over the Rangers at Angel Stadium.
Ohtani, who entered the game in a 3-for-22 slump, crushed a first-pitch sinker from Texas right-hander Adrian Sampson to right field for his 21st home run of the season. The blast had an exit velocity of 112.9 mph, making it the hardest-hit home run of his rookie campaign, according to Statcast™.
"I got all of the barrel," Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. "I felt pretty good about how far it went."
Ohtani has been a persistent thorn in the Rangers' side this season, batting .327 with four doubles, five home runs, and 11 RBIs in 15 games. His five home runs against Texas are his most against any opponent.
Despite spending a month on the disabled list with an elbow injury that led to a Tommy John surgery recommendation earlier this month, Ohtani has emerged as a frontrunner for the Rookie of the Year award after hitting .280 with a .925 OPS over 307 plate appearances as a left-handed hitter and logging a 3.31 ERA over 51 2/3 innings as a right-handed pitcher. His chief competition for the honor will likely come from the Yankees' Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres.
"It's a huge honor for me to be a candidate still this late in the season," Ohtani said. "That means I accomplished something positive during the season. Personally, I take that as a positive. We've still got five games left. I want to finish up strong and hopefully carry it over to next season."
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.