More than a month after signing with the Dodgers and just three weeks before reporting to spring training, Shohei Ohtani finally closed the chapter on his tenure with the Angels when he accepted his 2023 American League MVP award on Saturday night.
Ohtani shared a dais with Major League Baseball’s other award winners, including NL MVP Ronald Acuña Jr. and NL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell, at the 99th New York Baseball Writers’ Dinner. He spent the night seated next to his longtime interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. He wore a dark blue velvet suit with a black dress shirt and bowtie.
The original plan was for actor Will Ferrell to introduce Ohtani, but Ferrell backed out just days before the event due to a scheduling conflict. Instead, Dusty Baker, the former Dodger star outfielder who just retired as manager of the Houston Astros, presented Ohtani with an introduction that drew some laughs from the crowd.
Ohtani then read a two-minute speech entirely in English.
“To the Angels organization: Ownership, front office, and the entire staff, thank you for the past six years,” Ohtani said. “I always appreciated your support and allowing me the opportunity to play this game I’m so passionate about. To my teammates and the coaching staff for helping me and encouraging me throughout the year. I felt your support every day.
“To the Dodgers organization, for believing in me. I’m looking forward to this next phase in my career.”
Ohtani, 29, became the first player in MLB history to win multiple MVP awards unanimously when he was named AL MVP in November with his dog by his side. After winning the award in 2021, the two-way star earned the honor again with another historic two-way season fresh off leading Japan to the World Baseball Classic in March.
The left-handed slugger batted .304 with 44 home runs in 135 games. His .412 on-base percentage led the American League. He led the majors in slugging percentage (.654), on-base-plus-slugging percentage (1.066), OPS+ (184), and every version of WAR out there.
On the mound, he went 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA in 132 innings across 23 starts before injuring his elbow in August. He underwent his second Tommy John surgery in September as the Angels’ season ended without a playoff appearance for the ninth straight year.
Ohtani’s injury is expected to prevent him from pitching in 2024, but the setback didn’t stop the Dodgers from giving him a historic 10-year, $700 million contract (with a record $680 million deferred) last month to begin an offseason shopping spree. Now Ohtani, after six seasons as Mike Trout’s teammate, will compete for MVP Awards with teammates Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman — and perhaps finally compete in the postseason as a major leaguer.
Below is the transcript of Othani’s speech Saturday night:
BBWAA, thank you for hosting such a great event and always making us feel welcomed.
To all the writers who voted for me, thank you. This MVP award is very prestigious and winning this award means the world to me. So a deep appreciation goes to all of you that voted for me to win this AL MVP Award.
To the Angels organization: Ownership, front office, and the entire staff, thank you for the past six years. I always appreciated your support and allowing me the opportunity to play this game I’m so passionate about. To my teammates and coaching staff for helping me and encouraging me throughout the year, I felt your support every day.
To the Dodgers organization for believing in me. I’m looking forward to his next pose in my career.
To all the fans around the world who support not only me, but Major League Baseball, we thank you and appreciate you.
To the country of Japan, your endless, passionate support you give me every day drives me to play the game the way I do.
To my support group, starting with my agent Nez Balelo and his wife, Liz, attending tonight. To CAA for all of their support and, of course, Ippei Mizuhara for always being there for me. Last, to my family and friends, thank you. I appreciate you. Thank you.