No. 1 reason why Shohei Ohtani deserves the Hank Aaron award: He raked even when the LA Angels didn’t protect him
Shohei Ohtani received no lineup protection from the LA Angels. All of Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, and Justin Upton were hurt last year. Ohtani’s numbers dipped a little bit at the end of the year, and it’s no coincidence that they dipped as the guys hitting behind him went down.
The lack of hitting behind Ohtani got so bad that everyone just started walking him. He got the Barry Bonds treatment, but somehow even worse.
Over a span of three games at the end of the season, he walked 11 times. Not even Bonds has ever walked that much. In that span, Ohtani walked three times in three consecutive games, which nobody had done since Bonds in one of his seven MVP seasons.
Those walks took away from opportunities to improve his power numbers, yet he still finished second in the AL in slugging percentage and OPS, and third in home runs.
He also wouldn’t be forced to chase as much if he had insurance behind him in the lineup. Nobody in this crop of candidates had to carry a lineup the way Ohtani did.
He deserves to win this award, and we need to get our votes in.