RAFU WIRE SERVICE REPORTS
Angels slugger Shohei Ohtani’s standing as a top designated hitter was further cemented on Nov. 29, when he was named the winner of the Edgar Martinez Outstanding DH Award by Major League Baseball.
It is the first time a Japanese player has won the award, given each year to the best DH in baseball. It was established in 1973 as the Designated Hitter of the Year Award and renamed in Martinez’s honor in 2004.
Ohtani won the award after a stellar offensive season spent almost exclusively at the DH position, giving baseball fans a two-way pitching and slugging performance that the game has not seen since Babe Ruth.
In addition to making 23 starts as a pitcher, the 27-year-old Japanese served as a designated hitter in 126 games. He is the first full-time DH to be named MVP.
He has also won the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award as well as Player of the Year honors from all of the Players Choice Awards, Baseball Digest, Baseball America, and Sporting News.
Hitting .257 with 46 home runs, 100 RBIs and 26 stolen bases, Ohtani was remarkable at the plate despite having no lineup protection behind him and the Angels finishing with a losing record for a sixth straight year.
Meanwhile, Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki was posted by NPB’s Hiroshima Toya Carp on Nov. 22, and his 30-day window to sign with a major league team has been paused by the shutdown triggered by the MLB owners’ lockout of the players.
Suzuki will have 20 days to find a deal once rosters unfreeze, and agent Joel Wolfe told Japanese media last week that between eight and 15 teams have expressed interest. Another potential obstacle: spring training in Japan starts Feb. 1.