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For the first time in his pro career, the brakes came off a fit Shohei Ohtani in 2021, and the Los Angeles Angels’ star showed the world his long-pursued prowess as a two-way player. But some doubters are still calling his performance a fluke.

Twenty years after Ichiro Suzuki became the first Japanese player to be named Most Valuable Player in a U.S. major league, Ohtani is the favorite to be the second after an unparalleled season in which he was one of the best offensive players and a first-rate pitcher in nearly a full-time role.

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