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Shohei Ohtani breaks Hideki Matsui's MLB record for HRs by Japanese-born player

Shohei Ohtani hit a two-run shot on Sunday against the New York Mets to break yet another record

The Los Angeles Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani found another way to leave his mark in the MLB record books on Sunday, breaking Hideki Matsui's record for home runs by a Japanese-born player.

Ohtani hit his 176th career homer in the third inning of the Dodgers' 10-0 win over the New York Mets at Dodger Stadium. It was a 423-foot shot off Mets starter Adrian Houser into the right-field stands, which gave the Dodgers an early 2-0 lead.

Matsui left the high-water mark in his final MLB season in 2012, and there have been few serious challengers since then. Most Japanese players who move to the U.S. have been pitchers, and many of the hitters are crafted in the mold of Ichiro Suzuki, prioritizing contact over power.

Ohtani is obviously an exception. The Dodgers superstar is known for doing everything well, but his power stands out in the MLB landscape. He took home the American League home run title last season, which made him the first Japanese-born player to lead the league.

Shohei Ohtani headshot
Shohei Ohtani
DH - LAD - #17
2024 - false season
211
AB
.336
AVG
13
HR
13
SB
1.024
OPS

On Sunday, the Dodgers put up eight runs in the fifth inning, thanks to a pair of RBI doubles and a three-run homer from Andy Pages. From there, the Dodgers cruised to the shutout victory to wrap their series with the Mets.

Most MLB homers by Japanese-born players

1. Shohei Ohtani, 176
2. Hideki Matsui, 175
3. Ichiro Suzuki, 117
4. Kenji Johjima, 48
5. Tadahito Iguchi 44

Shohei Ohtani keeps hitting despite Ippei Mizuhara scandal

Ohtani tied Matsui's record on April 14 and needed just seven days to take sole possession. That date happened to coincide with the arrest of Ohtani's former interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, for bank fraud.

Coverage of Mizuhara's alleged $16 million theft from Ohtani has dominated coverage of the star since the beginning of the season, his first with the Dodgers after signing a record-shattering, 10-year, $700 million contract in free agency. The Dodgers fired Mizuhara the day after their season opener, when Ohtani's camp accused him of stealing $4.5 million.

The story was initially clouded in confusion after a claim by Ohtani's camp that the star agreed to pay off illegal gambling debts for Mizuhara, but subsequent reporting showed that to be a product of Mizuhara controlling all communication with Ohtani. Once given a new interpreter, Ohtani claimed to have no knowledge of Mizuhara using his money to pay off illegal gambling debts.

As a government criminal complaint alleged in meticulous detail, Mizuhara took control of Ohtani's bank account and stole more than $16 million to help pay off the more than $40 million in debt that he accrued with an illegal bookie. Mizuhara allegedly went as far as impersonating Ohtani on the phone to maintain his control and was only done in when federal agents raided the bookie.

Ohtani was reportedly in the dark about the matter until after the Dodgers' season opener, despite his camp working behind the scenes to formulate a response to the approaching reports.

Mizuhara now faces up to 30 years in prison if found guilty. His attorney has expressed a willingness to reach an agreement with prosecutors rather than go to trial. Meanwhile, Ohtani and the Dodgers have said they wish to move on and focus on baseball.