Shohei Ohtani surpasses Hideki Matsui, makes history as Japan’s MLB homer king

Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani surpasses Yankees' Hideki Matsui as the Japanese with most homers in MLB on 21 April, 2024.
Sara Molnick
Tuesday April 23, 2024

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Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Shohei Ohtani etched his name deeper into baseball history on Sunday, surpassing the legendary Hideki Matsui for most home runs by a Japanese-born player in Major League Baseball.

The historic moment unfolded during the Dodgers’ dominant 10-0 victory over the New York Mets at Dodger Stadium. With the game scoreless in the bottom of the third inning, Shohei Ohtani connected with an 0-1 slider from Mets pitcher Adrian Houser. The electrifying swing resulted in a mammoth 423-foot home run that soared into right field, securing a 2-0 lead for the Dodgers and etching the two-way star’s name in the record books.

Shohei Ohtani’s record-breaking blast came after a period without a home run, the last one occurring on April 13th, the day he tied Matsui’s record. Despite the drought, he remained a consistent offensive force, recording an impressive 11-for-29 batting average with six walks and three doubles during that span.

Shohei Ohtani donates 60,000 gloves to kids in Japan.
大谷翔平

Following this historic achievement, Matsui himself offered his congratulations, acknowledging Shohei Ohtani’s exceptional talent and on-field presence. Matsui humbly conceded that his own statistics cannot compare to Ohtani’s accomplishments, and expressed his primary wish for his compatriot’s continued health and future success in the game. With this milestone achieved, fans and analysts eagerly anticipate what other records Shohei Ohtani might shatter in the years to come.

A new era for Japanese in MLB set off by Shohei Ohtani

Shohei Ohtani’s record-breaking home run on Sunday marked a significant shift in the landscape of Major League Baseball history. Ohtani surpassed the previous record holder, Matsui, for most home runs by a Japanese-born player.

Matsui, a legendary figure in baseball, established the record with 175 home runs over a distinguished 10-year career. His journey included seven memorable seasons with the New York Yankees, along with notable stints with the Los Angeles Angels, Oakland Athletics, and Tampa Bay Rays. Matsui bid farewell to professional baseball in 2012.

hideki-matsui-new-york-yankees
Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

While Shohei Ohtani’s early career with the Dodgers was initially overshadowed by a gambling scandal involving his former interpreter, he has silenced the doubters with his exceptional performance on the field. As of Sunday’s game, Shohei Ohtani boasts an impressive batting average of .359, an on-base percentage of .419, and a slugging percentage of .630. He further solidifies his offensive dominance by currently leading the league with 11 doubles and 35 hits.

The 2023 season with the Angels saw Shohei Ohtani unleash his power, launching a staggering 44 home runs. This achievement marked his third consecutive season with at least 30 home runs, solidifying his reputation as a force to be reckoned with. Following the off-season, Shohei Ohtani’s departure from the Angels made headlines as he signed a historic 10-year, $700 million contract with the Dodgers. This move not only reinforced his superstar status but also signaled a new era for Japanese baseball players in Major League Baseball.

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