Japan's MLB star Ohtani addresses season hurdles

Los Angeles Angels player Shohei Ohtani said he was grateful for an exceptional year in baseball during which he showed off his skills despite suffering a series of injuries.

Ohtani made those remarks at a news conference in Tokyo on Monday.

The 27-year-old "Showtime", as he's known in the United States, mesmerized fans in the batter's box, on the mount and on basepaths, breaking Hideki Matsui's record for home runs in a season by a Japanese player, ending the year with 46.

Because he can pitch and hit at an elite level, the Los Angeles Angels' dual threat has long drawn comparisons to baseball legend Babe Ruth, and is a clear favorite to receive the American League's Most Valuable Player award this Thursday.

If Ohtani clinches that title, he would be the second Japanese player to do so since Ichiro Suzuki in 2001.

In July, Ohtani was the first player picked for an All-Star Game as both a hitter and pitcher. He is also an elite baserunner: with 26 stolen bases this year, Ohtani was ranked the fastest baserunner in the American League by his peers.

Ohtani's popularity in Japan has hit fever pitch, with home-run contests televised live for the first time in at least 25 years. As of July, the 10 most-watched games in Japan this year have all been Angels' games and Ohtani was the most-searched player on the MLB Film Room video tool.

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