The American League won’t announce its MVP for another two months, but rest assured, when the votes are all tallied, Angels megastar Shohei Ohtani will be the last man standing. Between his 45 homers and nine pitching victories, the 27-year-old pitcher/DH hybrid has had, by every metric, one of the most remarkable seasons in MLB history. But, like most years in Anaheim, it will end without a trip to the postseason.
The Halos last won a playoff game in 2009, two years before Mike Trout debuted in the big leagues and long before Ohtani left Japan to pursue a lucrative professional career in the United States. Known for his poise and even-keel demeanor, Ohtani uncharacteristically lost his temper during Sunday’s loss to Seattle, taking his frustration out on a dugout bat rack after missing an opportunity to notch his 10th win of 2021. Fed up with losing (something he didn’t do much of in Japan), Ohtani didn’t hold back in his post-game remarks, casting further doubt on his Angels future.
“I like the fans. I like the atmosphere in the organization. But my feelings [of] wanting to win are stronger,” Ohtani relayed to Los Angeles Times columnist Dylan Hernandez, who is fluent in Japanese. “I don’t think we can win with the way things are.”
Hernandez confirms the former AL Rookie of the Year “wants out” of Anaheim, citing his recent quotes in Number—a popular Japanese sports magazine—criticizing the Angels for standing pat at the trade deadline while admitting it’s been hard to stay “motivated” amid the team’s struggles. The Angels would like nothing more than to sign Ohtani to a long-term deal (he’s under contract through 2023), but from the sound of it, that interest may not be mutual.