Shohei Ohtani more than lived up to the hype and he now has the hardware to prove it.
The Los Angeles Angels' two-way phenom was named 2018 American League Rookie of the Year on Monday, following a historic debut season that saw him excel as both a pitcher and designated hitter.
Ohtani defeated New York Yankees infielders Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres to win the award. He ran away with it, receiving 25 of a possible 30 first-place votes while being named on all but one of the 30 ballots cast.
The 24-year-old Ohtani joined the Angels to much fanfare following a stellar career in his native Japan. He quickly silenced any lingering doubters by putting together a two-way season for the ages.
In 104 games (367 plate appearances) as a designated hitter, Ohtani slashed .285/.361/.564 (152 OPS+) with 22 homers, 45 extra-base hits, 61 RBIs, 59 runs scored, 10 stolen bases, and 37 walks to 102 strikeouts. Though his season as a pitcher ended early due to an elbow injury, the right-hander started 10 games for the Angels, going 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA (126 ERA+), 1.16 WHIP, and struck out 63 - an average of 11 K/9 - while walking only 22. He has undergone Tommy John surgery and will be limited to DH duties in 2019.
In the annals of baseball history, Ohtani's rookie season will go down as historic. He became just the second player since 1900 to hit at least 20 homers and win four games in the same season, joining Babe Ruth, according to MLB Stat of the Day.
He and Ruth are also the only two players to hit over 15 homers while throwing 50-plus innings in the same year, per ESPN's Sarah Langs.
Ohtani is the third Angels player to be named Rookie of the Year, joining Tim Salmon (1993) and Mike Trout (2012). He's also the fourth Japanese-born player to win the award and the first since future Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki in 2001.
"I want to pass along my congratulations to Shohei for the special honor," Trout said, according to Maria Guardado of MLB.com. "It's great to see all of his hard work and effort recognized with this very prestigious award. All of us enjoyed playing alongside and watching Shohei excel as a two-way player and make history along the way. I have no doubt the best is yet to come."
Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Joey Wendle finished a distant fourth place in the voting. Daniel Palka of the Chicago White Sox and Rays reliever/opener Ryan Yarbrough each received a single third-place vote.