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Shohei Ohtani breaks Hideki Matsui’s single-season record for most homers by Japanese-born player

USATSI

Los Angeles Angels two-way player Shohei Ohtani made Major League Baseball history on Thursday, setting the single-season home run record for a Japanese-born player with his 32nd of the year. The season, it should be noted, is far from over: the All-Star Break won’t begin until Monday, and the Angels will play 76 more contests after their Thursday game against the Red Sox concludes. 

The record had previously belonged to longtime New York Yankees slugger Hideki Matsui, who homered 31 times in 2004.

Here’s a look at Ohtani’s 32nd blast of the season, which came off Boston lefty Eduardo Rodriguez and left the bat at 114.5 mph.

Ohtani leads the majors in homers and has been hitting them at an absurd clip in recent weeks. Ohtani has 17 home runs in 31 games since the start of June. He’s also pitching at an All-Star level and Wednesday’s homer came less than 24 hours after he threw seven strong innings on the mound against Boston.

Ohtani and Matsui are now responsible for eight of the 10 most prolific home-run campaigns in MLB history by Japanese-born players. Kenji Johjima and Tadahito Iguchi are the only others to hit at least 18 homers in a season:

Ohtani

2021

32

Angels

Matsui

2004

31

Yankees

Matsui

2009

28

Yankees

Matsui

2007

25

Yankees

Matsui

2005

23

Yankees

Ohtani

2018

22

Angels

Matsui

2010

21

Angels

Ohtani

2019

18

Angels

Kenji Johjima

2006

18

Mariners

Tadahito Iguchi

2006

18

White Sox

Because setting one record a day isn’t enough for Ohtani, he also became the first player in MLB history to have at least 32 home runs and at least 12 stolen bases before the All-Star Break, according to the Angels.




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