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Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani has been voted American League MVP for 2021, and he's won the award in a unanimous fashion. Ohtani fetched all 30 first-place votes in the balloting, resulting in 420 total points. Second-place finisher Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Blue Jays was a distant 151 points behind Ohtani. (You can view the full voting breakdown by clicking here.) 

This isn't especially surprising given the singular nature of Ohtani's age-26 campaign. On the mound, he pitched to a 3.18 ERA/141 ERA+ with 156 strikeouts and 42 unintentional walks in 130 1/3 innings. He also notched a quality start in 61 percent of his trips to the mound. As a batsman -- typically as the Angels' DH on days when he wasn't pitching but also as the vanishingly rare "AL pitcher who hits" -- Ohtani slashed .257/.372/.592 (158 OPS+) with 46 home runs and an MLB-leading eight triples.

Ohtani also stole 26 bases and took the extra base at an above-average clip. It's common enough to hear about players who "do it all," but in Ohtani's case that claim approaches the literal, at least in baseball terms. Add it all up, and Ohtani's combined WAR of 9.1 led not just the AL but all the majors this season and did so by a large margin. Yes, WAR is a bit of a blunt instrument, but it's right in this case when it pegs Ohtani as the best player in the game for 2021. 

An exhaustive rundown of Ohtani's historic feats in 2021 is best left to the habitués of Wikipedia, but we'll provide a couple that illustrates the larger point of his broad-based excellence: 

  • At one point during the 2021 season, Ohtani became the first player since Babe Ruth in 1921 -- i.e., a full 100 years ago -- to make a start on the mound while also leading the majors in home runs (home runs hit, not allowed).
  • Ohtani also became the first starting pitcher in more than 50 years to bat in the leadoff spot. 

Now back to the matter of Ohtani's unanimity. It was deserved, and it puts him in rare company across the sprawl of baseball history. Speaking of which, here's a rundown of the prior unanimous MVP choices since 1931, when the Baseball Writers Association took over the process and handed out an award in each of the two leagues. That's of course the process we still have today. To the sacred ledger: 


Unanimous MVP Winner


Hank Greenberg, Tigers (AL)


Carl Hubbell, Giants (NL)


Al Rosen, Cleveland (AL)


Mickey Mantle, Yankees (AL)


Frank Robinson, Orioles (AL)


Orlando Cepeda, Cardinals (NL)


Denny McLain, Tigers (AL)


Reggie Jackson, Athletics (AL)


Mike Schmidt, Phillies (NL)


Jose Canseco, Athletics (AL)


Frank Thomas, White Sox (AL)


Jeff Bagwell, Astros (NL)


Ken Caminiti, Padres (NL)


Ken Griffey Jr. Mariners (AL)


Barry Bonds, Giants (NL)


Albert Pujols, Cardinals (NL)


Mike Trout, Angels (AL)


Bryce Harper, Nationals (NL)

Now, of course, you can add Ohtani. As you can see, he becomes just the second Angel ever to be a unanimous MVP choice, and he's just the second unanimous AL MVP since 1997. With Ohtani's sweep, the Angels join the Tigers, Giants, and Cardinals are the only franchises to boast multiple unanimous MVPs. 

Speaking of the 2021 Angels, they are by a wide margin the worst team ever to produce a unanimous MVP. The previous record-holder was the 2015 Nationals and Harper, who posted a win percentage of .512. The 2021 Angels finished with a win percentage of .475. There's of course been a steady evolution in thought that's disabused of the notion that MVPs must come from contending teams (the ballot instructions expressly say an MVP need not play for a contender), and that's surely in play here. Mostly, though, it speaks to fact that Ohtani's dominance as a hitter and pitcher and immense, world-spanning star power made such considerations even less practically relevant.