It truly is the season of Shohei Ohtani.
ESPN’s David Schoenfield revealed the Los Angeles Angels superstar isn’t just one of the biggest names competing in this year’s All-Star festivities — he’s also the No. 1 seed in the Home Run Derby.
Ohtani is one of eight competitors in this year’s derby, facing off against sluggers from across the league, including defending champion Pete Alonso of the New York Mets, who is ranked No. 5. Ohtani will also be the first Japanese player to compete in the mid-summer contest.
“I always wanted to see a Japanese player participate in the derby, and it happens to be me,” Ohtani said through his interpreter. “It’s really exciting for me.”
The 27-year-old out of Iwate, Japan has been snagging headlines left and right through the first half of the MLB season, and rightfully so. He has pulled double duty for the Angels, playing as both a star pitcher and a designated hitter. In addition to pitching a 3.49 ERA with 87 strikeouts this season, he also leads the league with 32 home runs.