Shohei Ohtani Authored Another Historic Season in 2022

Image credit: Shohei Ohtani (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

After Shohei Ohtani redefined what was possible in Major League Baseball with his unprecedented two-way performance last season, the only question was whether he could do it again. 

Ohtani, in no uncertain terms, showed the answer was unequivocally “yes” in 2022. 

Ohtani delivered another extraordinary season for the Angels this year, batting .273/.356/.519 with 34 home runs and 95 RBIs and going 15-9, 2.33 with 219 strikeouts in 166 innings on the mound. Among qualified players, he finished tied for eighth in extra base-hits, 10th in OPS, tied for 11th in home runs, second in strikeouts per nine innings, fifth in ERA and sixth in strikeouts. He had a streak of 31.2 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run, had an eight-RBI game and a 13-strikeout game on back-to-back nights, threw the most 100-plus mph pitches of any pitcher in the American League and became the first player in MLB history to qualify for both the batting title and ERA title in the same season.

In the process, he asserted himself as one of the best hitters and pitchers in the game individually, not just combined.

“I definitely feel like this season is better overall,” Ohtani said after his final home start of the season. “My pitching numbers are better. I’m just playing with more confidence after experiencing last year. I know that I won MVP last year, but I feel like I’m having a better season this year, which is leading to a lot of confidence.”

By any objective measure, Ohtani delivered one of the best and most remarkable seasons of all-time in 2022. Of course, it came in the midst of another historic season.

Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge hit an American League-record 62 home runs and finished just shy of winning the American League Triple Crown, all while primarily playing center field.

The only other players to hit 60 home runs in a season—Babe Ruth, Roger Maris, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds—did so while playing corner positions. None came within 20 points of winning a batting title the years they reached 60. Judge finished just five points behind Twins infielder Luis Arraez for the AL batting title.

Judge’s unprecedented season, and how it lifted a battered Yankees team to the AL East division title, made him the face of the 2022 season and the Baseball America Major League Player of the Year.

But that speaks to the bar others have to clear to overshadow what Ohtani is doing. A century of baseball history said being successful as both a hitter and pitcher simultaneously in the major leagues was not possible.

Ohtani showed not only that it was in 2021, but he did it yet again in 2022.

“It’s amazing,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said. “You try not to take for granted what he does because you expect something (special) to happen every time he takes the field, whether he’s in the box or he’s pitching. He’s a special player in a special time in our game.”

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