20240422 ohtani
Shohei Ohtani leads MLB with 35 hits and 11 doubles and a .368 batting average. Image Credit: AFP

Los Angeles: Los Angeles Dodgers superstar Shohei Ohtani belted his 176th career home run to move past Hideki Matsui for most homers by a Japanese player in Major League Baseball on Sunday

Ohtani crushed an 0-1 pitch from Mets right-handed hurler Adrian Houser 423 feet into Dodger Stadium's right field bleachers to break a tie with Matsui atop the list.

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Matsui, who was the 2009 World Series Most Valuable Player with the New York Yankees, needed 20 seasons to put up 175 home runs. Ohtani has passed him in his seventh campaign.

Ohtani has five home runs this season. He had tied Matsui with a homer on April 13 and then gone seven games without a homer.

In that span Ohtani was 11-for-29 at the plate, with three doubles and six walks.

"Honestly I was just relieved I was able to just get it over with, I was just happy I was able to do that," Ohtani said.

After Sunday's two-run blast, Ohtani reached base twice more in the Dodgers' 10-0 victory over the Mets.

Ohtani, the 29-year-old ace regarded as the most talented all-around player since Babe Ruth, is in the first year of his record-shattering 10-year, $700 million deal with the Dodgers.

His first campaign in Los Angeles began under a cloud after revelations that his long-time interpreter had stolen millions of dollars from him to pay off gambling debts to an illegal bookmaker.

Ippei Mizuhara is currently free on bond and under court orders to undergo treatment for gambling addition after being accused of stealing $16 million from Ohtani, who prosecutors say is a victim in the case.

While Ohtani is not pitching this year as he recovers from right elbow surgery, Ohtani is off to a strong start at the plate. He leads MLB with 35 hits and 11 doubles and a .368 batting average.