Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani took a vocal leadership role in Team Japan.
The 2021 American League MVP gave a rousing speech to his native team before taking on the United States in the final of the World Baseball Classic on Tuesday night in Miami.
“Let’s stop admiring them,” the 28-year-old Ohtani said, as translated by the Los Angeles Times.
“If you admire them, you can’t surpass them.
“We came here to surpass them, to reach the top. For one day, let’s throw away our admiration for them and just think about winning.”
Ohtani entered Tuesday’s matchup batting .450 in the World Baseball Classic.
Ohtani is a marvel in the sense that he is both an elite hitter and pitcher, the combination of which we haven’t seen since Babe Ruth.
Last season, Ohtani batted .273 with 34 home runs, 95 RBIs and an .875 OPS while going 15-9 with a 2.33 ERA as a pitcher.
He has spent five years as a member of the Angels and is entering a contract year.
There had been some thought to the idea that the Angels, who might not be in a position to re-sign the superstar in free agency, would trade him this offseason, but that idea was shot down by the team’s general manager Perry Minasian.
In September, The Post’s Jon Heyman pegged Ohtani’s value on the open market to be in the vicinity of $50 million per year given his dual threat status.