Combined photo shows Los Angeles Angels two-way player Shohei Ohtani pitching en route to his ninth win of the season in Anaheim on Sept. 3, and hitting his 46th home run of the season in Seattle on Oct. 3. (Kyodo)


Two-way star Shohei Ohtani’s 2021 Major League Baseball performance ranked No. 1 in the Sporting News’ list of greatest seasons by any individual in sports history published on Tuesday.

Sporting News, the oldest sporting publication in the U.S., reflected on Ohtani’s record-setting season in an original clip titled “By the Numbers” showing his highlights playing on both sides of the ball, as a hitter and a pitcher.

The ranking included athletes whose success happened over a season and not in events like the Olympic Games. Wilt Chamberlain’s 1961-1962 NBA season ranked second and Wayne Gretzky’s 1981-1982 NHL season ranked third.

“Day by day throughout his unprecedented 2021 season, Shohei Ohtani changed the way we evaluate great baseball seasons,” his blurb read.

“Imagine Patrick Mahomes picking off passes as a safety or Alex Ovechkin putting on the big pads and posting shutouts as a goalie once a week. It’s silly to even think about. But Ohtani didn’t just compete at these two skills on the baseball field, he excelled.”

In his fourth season with the Los Angeles Angels, Ohtani was a unanimous winner of the American League MVP award for a hitting and pitching display not seen since Babe Ruth. Ruth’s 1921 MLB season, in which he hit 59 homers, ranked 11th on the publication’s list.

Ohtani hit 46 home runs, stole 26 bases and drove in 100 runs in 155 games. He was also his team’s best starting pitcher, going 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA and 156 strikeouts in 23 starts.

The 27-year-old Japanese has collected many awards this offseason, taking Player of the Year honors from the Players Choice Awards, Baseball Digest, Baseball America, and Sporting News.

He also took home the Commissioners Historic Achievement Award, which is not handed out every year.

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