The 2023 season wound up a being majorly disappointing one for the Los Angeles Angels. The team finished with a 73-89 record, their eighth straight season of finishing below .500. They missed the playoffs for a ninth straight year, and did all of this despite making several win-now trades at the trade deadline.
Despite all that went wrong in 2023, one thing certainly went right. That was the play of Shohei Ohtani who just put together the best season in Angels history. This, of course, resulted in what we already knew was going to happen. He won his second AL MVP award in the last three years.
Shohei Ohtani wins his second AL MVP award after historic 2023 season
Ohtani won his first MVP in 2021, but lost out to Aaron Judge last season after the Yankees outfielder hit an AL record 62 home runs. While Judge was a deserving winner, it felt like Ohtani had a case as he put up gaudy offensive numbers while also finishing in fourth place on the AL Cy Young ballot.
This season it felt like Ohtani had a chip on his shoulder. He wasn't only out to earn as much money as he could the following offseason, he was out to try and win another MVP while leading the Angels to the postseason. The Angels did not make it (with Ohtani obviously having no fault in that), but Shohei did win the MVP.
Ohtani's offense was as good as it had ever been throughout his career. He slashed .304/.412/.654 with 44 home runs and 95 RBI. He had an absurd 184 OPS+, was an all-star, and took home a Silver Slugger. Shohei missed most of the final month due to injury, but still led the AL in home runs and total bases while also leading in stats like OBP, OPS, and OPS+.
Ohtani was three home runs shy of tying Troy Glaus' single season home run record in Angels history, a number he would've decimated had he stayed healthy. He would've been in the MVP conversation whether he pitched or not. What he did on the mound is what helped make his season so special.
There were times when it felt that Ohtani wasn't quite at the top of his game on the mound. His command would waver, causing him to get in trouble via walks and even home runs. Despite that, his numbers on the mound were still quite impressive. He had a 3.14 ERA in 23 starts and 132 innings pitched. He had a 31.5% K-rate while holding the opposition to a .184 batting average against. Had he pitched the last month of the season he might've earned some Cy Young votes, but his elbow had other plans.
Shohei finished his season with a whopping 10.0 bWAR, a mark only bested by Mike Trout who had 10.5 bWAR twice. Again, he did this despite missing most of the final month of the season entirely and over a month on the mound. Just absurd stuff.
Ohtani bested AL West rivals and Texas Rangers teammates Corey Seager and Marcus Semien on his way to his second AL MVP award. Now, as Angels fans, all we hope for is he doesn't join them. If this indeed was Ohtani's last act with the Angels, it's quite a way to go out.