Ohtani smoked 46 home runs, drove in 100 RBIs, scored 103 runs, stole 26 bases, recorded a 3.18 ERA in 23 starts, recorded a 141 ERA+, and posted a 1.090 WHIP en route to his first unanimous AL MVP award.
This came after Ohtani had some ups-and-downs in this league. He was really good his first year, winning the AL Rookie of the Year award despite not even being able to finish the year on the mound. He was that good.
He was good in his second year while he was healthy, but played in just 106 games and wasn't healthy enough to get on the mound. And then, 2020 was a rough year for Ohtani in general. So how was he able to not only pull back all the talent he had and put it together, but still overachieve to a tremendous extent?
Well, speaking to LA Angels Color Analyst at Bally Sports West, Mark Gubicza, it's actually due to the coaching he received. And I agree, as my opinion is that he was finally put in a situation to where he could succeed to the best of his ability.
Mark Gubicza praised Joe Maddon for the way he managed Shohei Ohtani in 2021.
Mark Gubicza praised both Joe Maddon and LA Angels General Manger Perry Minasian for how Shohei Ohtani was handled this season.
"I think the best thing that Joe did along with Perry Minasian was that they allowed Shohei to have input on what his role was going to be. And obviously, Shohei was healthy for the first time since putting on his Angels uniform. Even coming over in ‘18, from Japan, there was that concern about his elbow."- Mark Gubicza, LA Angels Color Analyst
I completely agree. All ShoTime needed was a full season under Maddon and Minasian and he took off. We even saw the Angels getting more out of him than we even thought was possible. It truly was amazing that Maddon figured out how to get him in the outfield as well.
Maddon and Minasian let Ohtani drive, and dictate what his body could and could not take on the baseball field.
And the only injuries he really faced were fluke injuries that kept him out of individual starts, like when he was unluckily hit in the dugout with a foul ball. He did experience some fatigue at the end of the year, but he was overall pretty healthy this year--playing in 155 games and starting 23 on the bump.
Crediting that communication once again, Gubicza was truly dumbfounded by some of the feats and the overall endurance Ohtani put on display in 2021.
"There were times when we would speculate during the course of the game where Shohei would throw 110 pitches, and you’re saying ‘Well there’s no way he’s playing the next day.’ And then boom, you see him in the lineup and he’s hitting a home run the next day. So I think the communication was incredible."- Mark Gubicza, LA Angels Color Analyst
Ohtani had never played more than 73% of the games in a season, and had never started more than 10 on the rubber. He played in 96% of his games this year, and had the best season of his career at the plate, on the mound, AND on the bases. His jets never faltered all year, and his peers even named him the fastest baserunner in the American League.
Maddon, who has three Manager of the Year awards, two pennants, and a World Series championship, proved just how good of a manager he was once again with how he coached up ShoTime this year.