Ohtani shows off wheels to make AL history
MVP Award frontrunner is 1st with 45 homers, 25-plus steals, 100 runs scored
ARLINGTON -- One of the more underrated parts of two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani's game is his speed.
But it was on full display in the Angels' 7-2 win over the Rangers on Wednesday at Globe Life Field, as he sparked a go-ahead rally in the sixth inning by reaching on an infield single before stealing his 25th base of the season and scoring his 100th run of the year on a single from Jack Mayfield. He later singled in the ninth -- on a ball that had an exit velocity of 109 mph and broke Rangers second baseman Andy Ibáñez's glove -- and swiped his 26th bag.
It put Ohtani in rare company, as he became just the second player in American League history with at least 45 homers and 25 stolen bases, joining Jose Canseco, who accomplished the feat with the Blue Jays in 1998. Canseco hit 46 blasts and swiped 29 bases that year.
"This is the first year of a lot of groundbreaking stuff by him, and I think it's going to continue,” manager Joe Maddon said. “The guy is really driven. He takes care of himself perfectly. And he's going to keep getting better as he understands what people are trying to do to him. Like right now, he's not chasing. He's getting his 'A' hack off. His legs are fresh. How does he do it?”
The only other players with at least 45 homers and 25 stolen bases in a season in AL or NL history are Alfonso Soriano (2006), Chipper Jones (1999), Larry Walker (1997) and Barry Bonds (1993). No player has ever posted a 50/25 season.
Ohtani, the frontrunner for the AL MVP Award, also reached 100 runs scored for the first time in his four-year career and became the first Angels player to score 100 runs since Mike Trout (110 in 2019), when he won the AL MVP Award. The last Halos player other than Trout to score 100 runs was Chone Figgins in 2009, while Ohtani became just the third Japanese-born player to reach 100 runs scored, joining Ichiro Suzuki (eight times) and Hideki Matsui (three times).
Canseco didn’t reach 100 runs in ‘98, so Ohtani is the first player in AL history with 45 homers, 25 stolen bases and 100 runs scored in a season. Add in his AL-leading seven triples and Ohtani is the first player in AL or NL history with 45 homers, 25-plus stolen bases, 100 runs scored and five-plus triples in a year.
Ohtani isn’t going to pitch again this season, but he still has a chance to reach milestones as a hitter, as he’s expected to be in the lineup for the club’s final four games of the season. With 45 homers, he ranks third in the Majors behind Kansas City’s Salvador Perez (48) and Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (46). And Ohtani is also two RBIs shy of 100. He also made 23 starts on the mound -- going 9-2 with 156 strikeouts, 44 walks and 15 homers allowed in 130 1/3 innings.
“It's playoff time and he's still going like it's Spring Training almost,” Maddon said. “But in the future, as we get to the playoffs, it's good to know with the number of innings he's pitched and how he moves this team in a year with a full plate. We keep throwing out platitudes, but it's true."
Ohtani hasn’t homered since Sept. 21, but he went 2-for-5 as the leadoff hitter on Wednesday and has found other ways to contribute. He showed off his legs by beating out an infield single to first base to open the sixth, then promptly stole second base and reached third on an errant throw by catcher Jose Trevino. He scored on Mayfield’s single, which started a four-run rally.
Ohtani sparked another rally in the ninth with a single off reliever Josh Sborz that advanced Luis Rengifo from first to third. It broke Ibáñez's glove in the process, which amazed Maddon. Rengifo came around to score on a sacrifice fly from Brandon Marsh as an insurance run.
"He's looking right at the plate right now,” Maddon said of Ohtani. “He fouled off his pitch a couple times regarding the home run ball, but he's been hitting the ball hard, including the ball that went through the second baseman's glove. In my mind's eye that absolutely galvanizes the MVP Award. When you start breaking gloves, you're the MVP."