Major League Baseball (MLB) superstar Shohei Ohtani struck out his fellow Angels teammate Mike Trout in the bottom of the 9th inning Tuesday night to give Japan the 2023 World Baseball Classic win over Team USA.
The pitching (and hitting) sensation also won the tournament’s MVP award, but it isn’t the only title Ohtani won over the course of the two-week tournament.
Ohtani, 28, reportedly gained two million Instagram followers in just 14 days, earning him the crown for the most followers on the platform of all MLB players. Coincidentally, the No. 2 MLB player on the platform is Trout — with about half as many followers.
Greatest Sho on Earth! #WorldBaseballClassic pic.twitter.com/pPzY1QGijN
— MLB (@MLB) March 22, 2023
According to The Sports Daily, Ohtani came into the World Baseball Classic with around 1.7 million followers on Instagram. Before Japan took on Team USA for the final game, that number was up to 4.1 million followers, an increase of 141%. (He’s now up to 4.5 million.)
Ohtani joined the Angels in 2018 and won the American League Rookie of the Year in his first MLB season. USA Today notes that the star has never played in the MLB postseason since joining the league. In Japan, he played for the Nippon-Ham Fighters from 2013 to 2017, where he was a five-time All-Star and Japan Series Champion in 2016.
The 2023 World Baseball Classic broke both attendance and ratings records, according to Front Office Sports. The first round alone saw 1.01 million fans in attendance — that’s a 98% increase from 2017, the outlet reports.