World Baseball Classic
Did Shohei Ohtani predict his World Baseball Classic MVP performance as a teenager?
World Baseball Classic

Did Shohei Ohtani predict his World Baseball Classic MVP performance as a teenager?

Updated Mar. 22, 2023 6:54 p.m. ET

The 2023 World Baseball Classic was memorable for plenty of reasons, but perhaps none more so than it serving as a coronation for the global face of baseball — Shohei Ohtani

The two-way Japan superstar led his country to its third WBC title, finishing it off in the most dramatic way possible by striking out Angels teammate Mike Trout. The 28-year-old Ohtani won WBC MVP for his efforts, seemingly fulfilling a prophecy that he gave himself as a high schooler — almost right down to his age.


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It is unclear if by "MVP" Ohtani was referring to the MLB award — which he did win as a 27-year-old in 2021 — or the WBC honor that he received Tuesday. If it was indeed the latter, Ohtani can be forgiven for being a year late to his incredible achievement, as the World Baseball Classic was delayed two years from its initially scheduled date in 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic. But Ohtani, who will turn 29 in July, put on a show throughout the tournament, as his two-way abilities were on full display. 

Ohtani was not only masterful both at the plate and on the mound by just about every measure during the 2023 WBC, but he also recorded the hardest-hit ball, the farthest-hit ball and the fastest pitch of any player in the entire tournament.

His performance Tuesday alone was historic in and of itself, including his strikeout of Trout, where he got his Angels teammate to do something incredibly rare — swing and miss at all three strikes.

[2023 World Baseball Classic highlights: Japan beats USA to win championship]

Needless to say, just about everyone who watched Ohtani on Tuesday was in awe, including FOX Sports' Alex Rodriguez and David Ortiz — baseball legends in their own right who Ohtani said he grew up admiring (along with Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr., who was in the opposing dugout Tuesday night as Team USA's hitting coach).

[Baseball's best found purpose and passion in 2023 WBC]

Ortiz's former Red Sox teammate Pedro Martinez, who knows a thing or two about being a global baseball icon as a pitcher, also lavished praise on Ohtani after the game, thanking him for his contributions to the sport.

Ohtani also drew accolades for his speech to his teammates before the game, in which he urged Team Japan to temporarily suspend their admiration for the MLB superstars on Team USA and focus on beating them. Athletes from other sports such as Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons loved it.

[2023 World Baseball Classic championship: Twitter reacts to Japan's win over USA]

Back in Japan, meanwhile, the broadcast call of Ohtani's title-clinching strikeout of Trout and the reaction from fans showed just how much he means to his home country.

While Ohtani and Trout are already journeying to return to the Angels and resume their journey together as teammates, Trout — who already verbally committed to playing for Team USA again in the 2026 World Baseball Classic — teased future battles between the two MVPs on baseball's global stage.

"He won round one," Trout told reporters after Tuesday's game.

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