Shohei Ohtani became the first player in MLB's World Series era to qualify for the leaderboards as both a hitter and a pitcher Wednesday after throwing five innings in the Los Angeles Angels' 3-2 loss to the Oakland Athletics.
In the Angels' last game of the season, the two-way star threw a perfect first inning to reach the 162 innings required to qualify among the league leaders for pitchers, for the first time in his five years in the majors.
Ohtani, who was pitching in his 28th game of the season, had already qualified among the league leaders as a hitter for the second straight year by passing 502 plate appearances.
"I wasn't fixated on it, to begin with. I knew I could qualify in both if I got to play regularly," said Ohtani, who missed just five games the whole season hitting 34 home runs and improved on his 130 innings tossed last year by managing a 6-day pitching rotation.
"I was testing many things this year as that was the main theme. If I can continue being creative next year onward, I believe I can achieve even better numbers."
Ohtani mixed his 160-kilometer-per-hour fastballs with breaking balls to start the game with four perfect innings at Oakland Coliseum before getting tagged with the loss, giving up a run while striking out six.
Ohtani (15-9) gave up his only run in the fifth after allowing a walk, Chad Pindar to double for the A's first hit of the game and a sacrifice fly. He was relieved after the inning due to a blister.
Ohtani went 1-for-4 at the plate. The A's added two runs in the seventh before the Angels scored two in the eighth.
His 34 homers and 95 RBIs failed to eclipse last year, when he had 46 homers and 100 RBIs, but the 28-year-old raised his batting average to .273 from .257.
"I think it's been good overall but it's against my will that the season is ending today," Ohtani said with the Angels missing the playoffs for the eighth consecutive year.
"I hope this stage of the year will be the start of the actual battle. That's what I will be aiming for next year."
Ohtani's 2.33 ERA ranked fourth in the American League and was the best by a Japanese in MLB -- apart from the pandemic-hit, shortened 2020 season -- as he eclipsed Hideo Nomo's 2.54 from 1995 while he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The introduction of the "Ohtani rule" from this year, allowing a starting pitcher to remain in a game as a designated hitter after leaving the mound, also helped him qualify in both roles.
Over 40 pitchers qualified for the pitching leaderboard this year and around 130 players for the hitting leaderboard.
In Japan, Ohtani qualified for the leaderboard as a pitcher while playing for the Nippon Ham Fighters in 2014 and 2015, but never as a hitter.
Ohtani also said he was pleased to have signed a one-year contract worth $30 million with the Angels for the 2023 season.
"It's positive that I could establish a good relationship with the club at an early stage," he said. "It does become more of an expectation that you perform given you're getting paid more."
Ohtani, who will be a free agent after the 2023 season, added he and the Angels "haven't talked about what happens after that."
Ohtani also said he wants to "relax a bit" before thinking about the World Baseball Classic with Japan next spring.