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Shohei Ohtani Wins the AL Home Run Crown

Angels star Shohei Ohtani led the American League in homers for the first time, finishing with 44. He is the first Japanese player to win an MLB home run title.

Shohei Ohtani missed nearly a month to close out the 2023 MLB season, but he still finished as the American League leader in home runs with 44.

The Los Angeles Angels (73-89) wrapped up their season on Sunday, October 1 with a 7-3 victory over the AL West rival Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium. It's the Angels' eighth straight losing season.

Ohtani didn't play a game after September 3 due to a right oblique strain.

The pride of Iwate Prefecture is the first Japanese MLB player to win the American League or National League home run crown.

Ohtani said it's a special distinction to be the first Japanese to achieve the feat.

"Thinking about the great Japanese players who have played in the major leagues until now, it's both humbling and a great honor. I'm grateful to my teammates and fans," Ohtani said in a statement, Kyodo News reported.

Adolis Garcia of the Texas Rangers finished second in the AL with 39 homers.

Shohei Ohtani
Shohei Ohtani steals second base against the Atlanta Braves in the sixth inning on August 1 in Atlanta. (Brett Davis/USA TODAY SPORTS)

Shohei Ohtani: A Standout All-Around Season

In his sixth season with the Angels, Ohtani batted .304 (fourth-best average in the AL), scored 102 runs and had 95 RBIs. He also stole 20 bases and was No 1 in the AL in total bases (325) and on-base percentage (.412).

Ohtani led the majors with a robust .654 slugging percentage and also finished two homers shy of matching his career-high total set in 2021, when he was the AL MVP.

He appeared in 135 games as a designated hitter while also serving as a starting pitcher (10-5, 3.14 ERA) in 23 games with 167 strikeouts in 132 innings.

Pitching Injury Required Surgery

Ohtani sustained an elbow ligament injury on August 23 while pitching against the Cincinnati Reds and didn't return to the mound again this season. He then underwent surgery on September 19 to repair his torn ulnar collateral ligament in Los Angeles, with Dr Neal ElAttrache performing the surgery.

He also had Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow in October 2018 and resumed pitching duties in 2020.

Ohtani becomes a free agent this offseason. In an Instagram post on Sunday, he said his focus is on getting prepared physically to return as a player.

"Thank you very much for everyone's support throughout the season!" Ohtani posted. "I will start my rehab here soon and I will do my best to come back stronger than ever. Looking forward to seeing everyone next season!"

It's just a shoe!

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Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and Twitter @ed_odeven.

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