Shoaib Ohdani is extraordinary this season. Othani, The The two-way star of Los Angeles, Hit 46 home runs, scored 100 runs and recorded a .965 on-base plus slugging percentage, trailing Toronto. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. In the American League. If that didn’t impress enough, Ohdani was also his team’s best opener, averaging 3.18 and amassing 156 strikeouts in 130 மேல் innings over 23 starts.
On Thursday, Ohtani was awarded the AL Most Valuable Player Award for his historic efforts. As the only Japanese player to receive this award in Major League Baseball history, he joined ALMVP’s former Seattle Mariners star outfielder Ichiro Suzuki in 2001.
Othani received All 30 first place votes For the annual award presented by the Baseball Writers Association of America. He defeated his fellow finalists Guerrero by 29 second-place votes and Blue Jesse’s second-baseman Marcus Semine by 24 third-place votes.
Some beyond Ohtani’s inner circle may be happier about his achievement than Tomoyuki and Gauri Iwas. They have never met the 27-year-old Ohtani regularly, but they have seen him play more than anyone outside his family.
This season alone, Kaur has played in 136 of the 162 games the Angels have played. Home Run Derby In Denver in July). Her husband, Tomoyuki, said he participated in approximately 10 lesser games. Super fans flew to Japan to see him play for his former team, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, at Nippon Professional Baseball. Tomoyuki, 49, estimates he went to 15 different MLB stadiums to watch Ohdani play this season. Kaoru, 38, records about travels His Instagram page.
He holds about 300 Ohtani memorabilia, from his Fighters and Angels jerseys to his bobbleheads to the balls he threw at the crowd. (No autographs, though.) A few years ago, they were photographed at the Angel Stadium – naturally – wearing Ohdani jerseys. They lived a 30-minute drive from the stadium in Anaheim, but last year moved to an apartment about a five-minute walk from Balfark.
“Even in the off-season, we walk to Angel Stadium,” Tomoyuki said in a video interview. He laughed and added, “This is our main house.”
When Ohdani was announced as ALMVP, that moment – for the game, for Japanese baseball fans and others – was more than the headline of an exciting campaign on the field.
MLB Hot Stove and Offseason Updates
Throughout his life, even in Japan, Ohdani has been Constantly faced with suspicion On his ability to be a two-way player. Being a daily winner in the top league MLP with the best players in the world is very difficult, let alone serving as a starter.
But even after Tommy John had elbow surgery in 2018, he missed nearly two seasons of pitching in 2020 due to an injury to another elbow. Urged to do both. In his first season in the MLB, after signing with the Angels in 2018, Ohtani won the AL Rookie of the Year award. Ohdani was even better this year, free from the playing time restrictions imposed by his teams in the past.
“Why do I love Shoaib, why is he the best, why do I chase him, because his mind is the best,” Kaur said emotionally. “He never changed his goal. In high school in Japan, everyone said it was not possible for two to play.
He later added, “He was No. 1 in Japan, but everyone said, ‘You can’t do that in a two-player MLP.’ But he never changed his mind. He believed he could be No. 1.
In a televised interview after being named the AL winner, Ohdani admitted that he dreamed of winning the MVP award one day.
“But, I’m much more appreciative of the fact that American fans and the whole USA baseball embraced and welcomed the whole two-way idea than when I first started in Japan,” he said through a translator. “It just made the change so much easier for me.”
Iwases, who met in Japan, are pursuing his career at Ohtani High School because he was the most valued opportunity in the then highly watched competitions. During his five seasons with the Ham Fighters, they traveled from the United States to Japan to watch him play – and also met with their families while they were there. “Shohak is the first priority,” Kaur said.
Iwases have seen Ohdani grow bigger and stronger, attacking some speed bumps and now dominating the huge stage.
Tomoyuki, now a US citizen, emigrated to the country in 1997 to play another Japanese pitching event, Hideo Nomo, for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Tomoyuki’s favorite player is Suzuki – who shares with him the same native province of Ichi. (Suzuki, who was also the AL Rookie of the Year in 2001, may First Asian player Elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.)
“We are very proud of Shoaib and Ichiro,” Tomoyuki said. “Ichiro, of course, he’s special. But Shohey, He changed the rules. What he does is incredible.
Iwases, of course, are not the only ones to notice. Tomoyuki said the Angels went 77-85 this season, extending their playoff drought to seven years, but noticed more Japanese on the stand. For example, when he went to Texas to watch Ohdani play with the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers, he said they met Japanese fans from Florida for the same reason.
“Growing up, I saw Ichiro,” Othani said. “He also won the MVP, he was someone I expected and one who inspired me to play in the big leagues one day. I hope I can be that kind of figure to the kids who are watching me now. One day, I hope I can even play with one of the kids who’s watching me. .
Because of their work as wedding planners, Iwases can always see their favorite player. Tomoyuki is a wedding photographer and Kaur is a hair and makeup artist.
They have their own companies, can work long distances this season and travel across the country for weddings, ordering some work trips with Angels Road Games. They find cheap ballpark tickets and pay using cash or airline miles. They try to come quickly to see the batting practice.
When asked if Ohtani recognized them after all these years, the Ivas told a story with a smile. In 2018, they flew to Seattle for an angels road trip and brought a birthday banner to Ohtani, who turned 24 on July 5, the final game of the three-game series.
Tomoyuki noticed the sign on the Ohtani stand, perhaps recognizing them, but “we’re afraid he’s thinking of us as followers.”
The Ivasis laughed as they said this. To them, Othani inspires, and his journey inspires – just like their journey, coming to a foreign country for work. On Thursday the new plate formalized what they already knew.
“He proves that Japanese baseball level is very high,” Tomoyuki said. “I’m very excited about it. And, he’s proving himself to be the No. 1 player, it’s his. GoalsKaur said after a few seconds, “I am very proud of him.”
“Communicator. Music aficionado. Certified bacon trailblazer. Travel advocate. Subtly charming social media fanatic.”