Tuesday before the first game of the World Series baseball commissioner, Rob Manfred, presented Shohei Ohtani with the Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award. Ohtani won the award for his historic two-way season.
Ohtani had a batting average of .257, a .372 on-base percentage, and a .592 slugging percentage in his 639 plate appearances. On the mound, he posted a 3.18 ERA with 156 strikeouts and 44 walks in 130 1/3 innings pitched. He was the first player to record 45-plus home runs with 25-plus stolen bases while making 23 starts.
This is a very rare award to win making it a monumental achievement for Ohtani putting him in rare air with some of the great players this league has had.
History of the Comissioner’s Historic Achievement Award
The Commissioner’s Historic Achievement Award is presented to a person or a group of players that have made a major impact on the sport of baseball. The award has only been presented 16 times since its inauguration in 1998. Thirteen of those times to players, once to a team, and twice to a non-player. Before Ohtani won it, the last two people to win the award were Derek Jeter and Vin Scully.
Jeter won the award for his 20-year career with the New York Yankees and retired with the sixth-most hits in MLB history. He was also a five-champion and set multiple postseason records. Scully won the award for his monumental achievements over his 65 years in broadcasting for the Dodgers.
The first winners of the award were Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire because of their efforts during the 1998 homerun race. The team that won the award was the Seattle Mariners in 2001 for posting a 116-46 record in the regular season. And the two non-players to win the award were legendary announcer Vin Scully and Rachel Robinson, the wife of Jackie Robinson, who received the award on behalf of Jackie for his monumental achievement in breaking the color barrier.
Ohtani Compared to the Other Award Winners
There is a lot of competition between the 16 people that have won this award winners. The 16 winners include Barry Bonds (2002), Roger Clemens (2004), Roberto Clemente (2006), Ken Griffey Jr. (2011), Tony Gywnn (2001), Rickey Henderson (2002), Derek Jeter (2014), Mark McGwire (1998), Shohei Ohtani (2021), Cal Ripken Jr. (2001), Mariano Rivera (2013), Rachel Robinson (2007), Vin Scully (2014), Seattle Mariners (2001), Sammy Sosa (1998), and Ichiro Suzki (2005).
All the award winners are more than deserving for what they have done for the game of baseball. At all these where would Ohtani stack up? I believe with his accomplishments he is somewhere in the middle of the pack. Not since Babe Ruth has been able to put up the numbers he did on the mound and at the plate.
For the rest of the winners, you can argue that Rachel Robinson, winning the award on the behalf of Jackie Robinson, is the worthiest of the winners. This is because of how much influence he had on the league being the first African American in the MLB. He had to deal with so much discrimination while he played, but ultimately it made a path for young African American stars to be in our game today.
Roberto Clemente would also be ranked high on my rankings. Not only did he lead the league in batting average four times and notched 3,000 hits he also was very influential outside of baseball. He made huge humanitarian contributions across the United States and Central America. He also provided free baseball clinics for his home country of Puerto Rico. His efforts outside of baseball gave the sport more of an influence outside the sport making him one of the best to win the award.
After these two players, it becomes an argument of who’s achievements were monumental at the time it took place. You can argue that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens winning the award could be skewed due to allegations of taking performance and enhancing drugs.
Overall, it is a great accomplishment for Ohtani to win this award. He is in an outstanding company that will be cemented in his legacy forever. If he keeps on doing this each year there will be a strong debate on who was better, Ohtani or Babe Ruth. And that will be a fun debate for years to come as Ohtani gets better each year he is in the league.
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