Japanese baseball player Shohei Ohtani made history as the first player in Major League Baseball (MLB) to qualify statistically as both a hitter and a pitcher in the same year, according to The Japan Times. He is one of about 130 players to place on the hitting leaderboard and one of 40 on the pitching leaderboard in 2022.
After pitching a perfect first inning in the Los Angeles Angels’ last game of the season on Wednesday, he reached the 162 innings needed to qualify as one of the top pitchers in the league. He had already qualified as a hitter earlier in the year, with his single in the first inning marking his 662nd plate appearance in the year, according to MLB.
“I wasn’t fixated on it to begin with,” Ohtani said, according to The Japan Times. “I knew I could qualify in both if I got to play regularly.”
“I was testing many things this year as that was the main theme,” he added. “If I can continue being creative next year onward, I believe I can achieve even better numbers.”
Angels manager Phil Nevin noted just how impressive the feat was. “He’s just a special player, a special person,” he said to MLB. “After four innings, you start thinking about that history stuff again, being perfect through four. It was a really good ending to a great year. We have something special, and the baseball world has something special. When he goes out there, you anticipate great things happening.”
Though he expressed disappointment that the Angels’ season would be ending earlier than hoped for, Ohtani said he was hopeful for the next year. “I feel like I had a good season this year, probably better than last year, overall,” he said, according to MLB. “But I would like to be in the playoffs and this is supposed to be the starting line. Unfortunately that’s not the case this year, but hopefully it is next year.”
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