On November 12th, 2018 the Angels RHP/DH Shohei Ohtani was named the 2018 Jackie Robinson American League Rookie of the Year in an announcement made by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
The 24-year-old was the third player in Angels’ history to earn the honor, joining Tim Salmon (1993) and Mike Trout (2012). He also became the fourth Japanese-born player to win a Rookie of the Year Award in the Major Leagues, joining Hideo Nomo (1995), Kazuhiro Sasaki (2000) and Ichiro Suzuki (2001).
Ohtani finished with 137 points in the balloting process, including 25 of 30 first place votes. He finished 48 points ahead of second place finisher Miguel Andujar of the New York Yankees (89 points).
"What Shohei did both on the mound and at the plate this season was just amazing to watch,” Salmon said. “He wasn't just good, but great. He made the transition from pitching to hitting look seamless and we all know how difficult it is to be successful at just one aspect of the game. Congratulations to Shohei and we can't wait to see what the future holds in his career."
“I want to pass along my congratulations to Shohei for this special honor,” Trout said. “It’s great to see all of his hard work and effort recognized with this very prestigious award. All of us enjoyed playing along-side and watching Shohei excel as a two-way player and make history along the way. I have no doubt the best is yet to come!”
The Ōshū, Japan native finished his rookie season in the Majors with a .285 (93/326) batting average with 59 runs scored, 21 doubles, two triples, 22 home runs, 61 RBI and 10 stolen bases. He led all A.L. rookies (min. 300 PA) in OPS (.925), on-base percentage (.361), and slugging percentage (.564) and posted the best rates of at-bats per home run (14.82) and RBI (5.34).
Additionally, in his 10 starts as a pitcher, he went 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA (51.2 IP – 19 ER) and his 63 strikeouts were the most by any pitcher in Angels history through his first 10 career starts. He allowed three-or-fewer runs in nine of 10 starts and held opponents to a .036 (2/55) batting average against his splitter.
Ohtani was named the American League Rookie of the Month in April and September and also received A.L.Rookie of the Week honors twice. He is the first player in Major League history to hit 15+ HR and compile 50+ pitching strikeouts in a season and joined Babe Ruth (1918 & 1919) as the only players since 1900 with 10+ HR and 4+ wins as a pitcher in a single campaign.
This season, he was the only player in the Majors to have multiple games of two home runs and a stolen base. Additionally, on Sept. 5 at Texas, Ohtani became the second rookie in A.L. history to record four hits, four runs, two HR and a stolen base in a single game, joining Craig Wilson who did so for the White Sox on Sept. 14, 1988 at Detroit.
Ohtani signed with the Angels as an international free agent on Dec. 9, 2017 following five seasons with the Nippon-Ham Fighters of the Japanese Pacific League.
The Rookie of the Year Award has been presented annually since 1947 and subsequently had its name changed to the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award in 1987, 40 years after Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier.
SHOHEI OHTANI’S ROOKIE SEASON Angels RHP/DH
Shohei Ohtani compiled a historic first season in the Major Leagues. Below is a look at some of his accomplishments, as well as where he ranked among A.L. rookie batters and pitchers.
- Named 2018 American League Rookie of the Year by the BBWAA, Baseball America and Baseball Digest.
- Became first player in Major League history to hit 15+ HR and compile 50+ pitching strikeouts in a season.
- Joined Babe Ruth (1918 & 1919) as the only players since 1900 with 10+ HR and 4+ wins as a pitcher in a single campaign…Ruth is also the only other player to hit 15+ home runs and pitch 50+ innings in a season.
- Established new home run record for a Japanese-born rookie (previous was 18 by Kenji Johjima in 2006).
- Only player in Majors to have multiple games of two HRs and a stolen base in 2018.
- Is the first player since Jimmy Ryan of the 1888 Chicago White Stockings to record 15+ home runs, 10+ stolen bases and three pitching appearances in a single season.
- Named American League Rookie of the Month for April and September.
- On Sept. 5 at Rangers, became second rookie in A.L. history to record four hits, four runs, two HR and a stolen base in a single game, joining Craig Wilson who did so for White Sox on Sept. 14, 1988 at Tigers.
- Was twice named A.L. Player of the Week, becoming the first Angels player to win the award twice in one season since Tim Salmon in 2000. o April 2-8: Pitched seven shutout innings with one hit allowed and 12 strikeouts in his start and also slashed .462/.500/1.154 with four runs scored, six hits, three home runs and seven RBI as a hitter. o Sept. 3-9: Batted .474 (9/19) with eight runs, one double, one triple, 10 RBI, two SB and a 1.828 OPS.
- Became first player to start games as a pitcher and non-pitcher at any point within the first 10 games of a season since 1920, when Bullet Joe Bush (Red Sox) and Clarence Mitchell (Dodgers) started as pitchers and outfielders.
- Ohtani led all American League Rookies with a combined 3.8 WAR (Fangraphs)
ADDITIONAL PITCHING NOTES
- Set Angels record with 63 strikeouts through first 10 career starts.
- Opponents batted .036 (2/55) against his splitter.
- Allowed three-or-fewer runs in nine of 10 starts
- Became third pitcher all-time with 11+ SO in two of first six career games pitched, joining Brooklyn’s Karl Spooner (1954) & Cubs’ Kerry Wood (1998).
- Carried perfect game into 7th inning on Apr. 8 vs. OAK; had stretch of 27 consecutive batters retired between starts on Apr. 1 & Apr. 8.
- Had average fastball velocity of 96.7 MPH…Topped 98 MPH with 110 of 396 fastballs, including seven pitches at 100+ MPH.