ANAHEIM, California – Los Angeles Angels two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani has been named the American League Player of the Month for June, Major League Baseball said Friday.
Ohtani, who received the monthly honor for the first time in his four-year MLB career, batted .309 with an .889 slugging percentage, 13 homers, 23 RBIs, six doubles, a triple, 20 runs and four stolen bases across 25 games.
He hit two homers on June 29 to take his season’s total to 28, giving him the sole lead in the MLB home run race. Six of them came over a six-game stretch from June 15 to 20.
“I want to make a fresh start and do as well in the next half of the season,” the Angels’ designated hitter said.
“Winning (the home run title) is my ultimate goal. To chase that I have to hit 40 or 50 homers, and at this point I don’t even have 30. I hope that’ll pile up over the season but I’m taking one at a time,” he said.
The 26-year-old is the third Japanese position player to win Player of the Month in the majors after Ichiro Suzuki and Hideki Matsui. He was awarded the third AL Player of the Week honor of his career in June.
Ohtani also made five starts on the mound in June, tallying two wins with an ERA of 4.94.
Washington Nationals outfielder Kyle Schwarber won the National League award.
Ohtani will become the first major league player from Japan to compete in the home run derby and on Thursday he was announced as an All-Star starter.
He is the first Japanese voted into the All-Star game’s starting lineup since Suzuki in 2010.
Ohtani, who grew up idolizing the longtime Seattle Mariner, said he feels honored to have the opportunity to watch and learn from the best MLB players.
“I want to experience the festive atmosphere (of the All-Star game),” he said.
“I wouldn’t say it’s impossible. If I’m asked to pitch I’m sure I will,” he said of his chances of both pitching and hitting in the July 13 game at Coors Field in Denver.
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