Ladies and gentlemen, the legend of Shohei Ohtani grows. In the span of two months this summer, the vitruvian pitcher who rakes won the Nippon Professional Baseball Home Run Derby and then threw the fastest pitch in NPB history. Two weeks ago, he mashed a baseball into the Tokyo Dome roof. And now, confirming what everyone already knew, he's been named the Pacific League's best pitcher and best designated hitter:
The Best Nine selections, like MLB's All-Star Game starting lineups, are each league's selections for its best players at each position. Ohtani is the first in either league to be named both the best pitcher and the best DH in a single season, partly because no one's ever put together a season like his and partly because they literally had to change the rules for him.
Indeed, as Jason Coskrey reports for The Japanese Times, Ohtani's competition wasn't even close. In the pitcher slot, he got nearly double the number of votes as second place; for DH, he more than tripled second place. Looking at the numbers, it's not hard to see why: He batted .322/.416/.588 with 22 home runs in 382 plate appearances for the Nippon Ham Fighters and pitched to a 1.86 ERA, .957 WHIP and 174 strikeouts in 140 innings. If you want MLB comparisons, only David Ortiz had a higher OPS (1.021) in 2016 than Ohtani's 1.004, and nobody had a lower ERA (Kyle Hendricks' 2.13 won the ERA title this season).
At this point, he's running out of baseball feats to conquer. But, uh, did we mention he's only 22 years old?