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MLB International Player of the Week: Shohei Ohtani

 Leif Skodnick - World Baseball Network  |    Jun 22nd, 2024 1:35pm EDT

Shohei Ohtani #of the Los Angeles Dodgers is congratulated by Dino Ebel as he circles the bases after hitting a solo home run against the Colorado Rockies in the first inning at Coors Field on June 20, 2024 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Is there an athlete in any major North American sport as compelling to watch as Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Shohei Ohtani?

If there is, it’s a hard case to make.

Ohtani, the two-way star from Japan who is limited to designated hitter duty after an ulnar collateral ligament injury that required Tommy John surgery, had 12 hits and clubbed five homers this past week, driving in 11 runs and drawing seven walks as he lead the Dodgers to a 4-3 mark over the past seven days. His stellar week earned him World Baseball Network‘s International MLB Player of the Week honors for June 15-21.

Last Sunday, Ohtani blasted two solo homers in a 3-0 win against the Kansas City Royals, and homered twice in the Dodgers four-game road set against Colorado, hitting a solo shot in Tuesday’s 11-9 win against the Rockies, and another solo homer in a 5-3 win Thursday. His two-run homer in the Dodgers’ 3-2, 11-inning loss to the cross-town rival Angels capped off a stellar week where Ohtani posted an absurd 1.730 OPS.

Perhaps not having to pitch this season has boosted Ohtani’s performance at the plate, where he’s hitting a career-high .322/.398/.628 with 22 homers and 55 RBI through 75 games.

The two-way star, who’s biggest pitching moment came at the 2023 World Baseball Classic final when he struck out former teammate Mike Trout to end the game and secure the title for Japan, is expected to return to the mound in 2025. In September, The Athletic‘s Fabian Ardaya reported that Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who performed Ohtani’s surgery, stated that he expects a full recovery and that Ohtani would be able to return to the mound in 2025.

Ohtani and the Dodgers go to Chicago to face the White Sox from June 25-27 before heading to San Francisco for a three-game set against their archrival, the Giants, next weekend.

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Leif Skodnick - World Baseball Network