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Angels star Shohei Ohtani wins second unanimous AL MVP Award; Ronald Acuña Jr. takes home NL honors

Shohei Ohtani, who has captivated baseball with his unprecedented combination of high-level hitting and premium pitching, became the first two-time unanimous Most Valuable Player when he won the American League honor on Thursday.

AL MVP Baseball
FILE - Los Angeles Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani throws against the Detroit Tigers in the fourth inning during the first baseball game of a doubleheader, Thursday, July 27, 2023, in Detroit. Shohei Ohtani is a favorite to win his second AL Most Valuable Player award, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023. Paul Sancya / AP

Ohtani, a free agent after finishing his contract with the Los Angeles Angels, received all 30 first-place votes and 420 points in voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America. He was a unanimous MVP in 2021 and finished second to the Yankees' Aaron Judge in voting last year.

This was just the 20th unanimous MVP vote since the award was established in 1931.

Corey Seager was second with 24 second--place votes and 264 points, and Texas teammate Marcus Semien was third with five second-place votes and 216 points. Balloting took place before the postseason, when the Rangers won their first World Series title.

Ohtani led the AL with 44 homers and hit .304 with 96 RBIs, eight triples and 20 stolen bases in a season at the plate that ended Sept. 3 because of an oblique injury.

Ohtani was 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA in 23 starts on the mound, striking out 167 and walking 55 in 132 innings before tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow on Aug. 23.

Not even Babe Ruth starred at such lofty levels on the mound and at the plate in the same season. Ruth batted .300 with 11 homers and 61 RBIs in 1918 while going 13-7 with a 2.22 ERA for Boston, then hit .322 with 29 homers and 113 RBIs in 1919 while going 9-5 with a 2.97 ERA. He made just five mound appearances in his final 16 seasons.

AL MVP Baseball
FILE - Los Angeles Angels' Shohei Ohtani celebrates as he rounds first after hitting a two-run home run during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the New York Yankees Monday, July 17, 2023, in Anaheim, Calif. Shohei Ohtani is a favorite to win his second AL Most Valuable Player award, Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023. Mark J. Terrill / AP

Ohtani averaged 96.8 mph with his four-seam fastball, 26th among qualified pitchers, and a 94.4 mph exit velocity off his bat, third among qualified batters behind Judge and Atlanta's Ronald Acuña Jr. Ohtani led the majors with a 10.0 Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball Reference.

A left-handed batter and right-handed pitcher, Ohtani had right elbow surgery on Sept. 19 and the team said he won't pitch again until 2025. He underwent Tommy John surgery in October 2018 and Ohtani's agent, Nez Balelo, did not specify details of the latest operation.

Before the injury, it appeared Ohtani could gain the first $500 million contract in baseball history. The three-time All-Star has a .274 average, 171 homers, 437 RBIs and 86 steals in six major league seasons and is 38-19 with a 3.01 ERA in 86 starts with 608 strikeouts in 481 2/3 innings.

Ohtani last spoke with reporters on Aug. 9, two weeks before he hurt the elbow while pitching against Cincinnati.

Ohtani won AL Rookie of the Year in 2018 after leaving the Pacific League's Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters to sign with the Angels. He was voted the Pacific League's MVP in 2016.

Ronald Acuña Jr. takes home unanimous NL MVP Award

Ronald Acuña Jr. was a unanimous winner of his first National League Most Valuable Player award on Thursday after becoming the first big leaguer with 40 homers and 70 stolen bases in a season.

There have now been 21 unanimous winners, and this year marked the first time two occurred in the same year.

NL MVP Baseball
FILE - Atlanta Braves right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. beats the throw to steal second base in the third inning of a baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, Tuesday, May 23, 2023, in Atlanta. Atlanta's Ronald Acuña Jr. is favored to win the NL MVP award after becoming the first player with 40 home runs and 70 stolen bases in a season. John Bazemore / AP

Acuña, a right fielder for the Atlanta Braves, received all 30 first-place votes and 420 points in voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

Mookie Betts received all 30 second-place votes and 270 points, followed by Los Angeles Dodgers teammate Freddie Freeman with 227 points. Betts earned the 2018 AL MVP award with Boston and Freeman was the 2020 NL MVP with the Dodgers.

Acuña was second in the NL with a .336 batting average and led the major leagues with 149 runs, 217 hits, 386 total bases and 73 stolen bases while hitting 41 home runs with 106 RBIs. A four-time All-Star who turns 26 next month, Acuña helped Atlanta to a major league-best 104 wins before the Braves lost to Philadelphia in an NL Division Series.

He set his career best for RBIs and matched his 2019 high for home runs.

Acuña learned of the award while in the clubhouse of La Guaria, his team in Venezuela's winter league.

Betts batted .307 with 39 homers and 107 RBIs, and Freeman hit .331 with 29 homers and 102 RBIs.

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