Normally if I am writing about baseball, the column is filled with hatred flowing through my veins for all the things that suck about it including their inability to promote their stars (when they have dozens), the absurd unwritten rules, the dinosaur thinking or the fact that historically great players like Pete Rose or Barry Bonds get pink slips and ignored by the sport entirely.
Major League Baseball sucks, period.
Every once in a while, it does have a way to draw my eyes and forcing me to pay attention. Look no further than Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani. I can’t help but get sucked in when I see highlights or hear his name mentioned. If you don’t know, now you know, Shohei Ohtani is a God among men on the baseball field. He should be celebrated and appreciated for what he is doing right now.
MLB Network tweeted a graphic of Ohtani’s goals he wanted to achieve by ages 18-42 that he wrote in high school while in Japan. They included the following…
While ambition clearly is not lost on the now 27 year old, notice most of the goals have more to do with pitching…because well, he is in fact a pitcher. Someone must have forgot to tell him he would not only be an all-star caliber pitcher, but also THE most exciting hitter on planet Earth and every other planet in the galaxy as well by 2021. He is earning every bit of the nickname “Shotime.”
Ohtani currently leads Major League Baseball with 33 dingers. His latest bomb was historic becoming the 6th player to crush a ball into the upper deck in Seattle, one of the most pitcher friendly parks in baseball.
With the 33rd bomb, Ohtani is now tied with Mark McGwire for second-most home runs before the all-star break in his 4th season or earlier. With two games left before the break, he is 4 home runs shy of Reggie Jackson’s record (37). He is currently on pace for 61. I cannot stress this enough, he is a fucking pitcher.
Of course we will hear Babe Ruth’s name get mentioned as two way star. However, once he left Boston, he left the hill full time. Technically speaking, Babe Ruth only has 14 HRs to his name as a pitcher, meaning he hit 14 HRs in games he was on the hill. Given that he was a full time pitcher for Boston, he has 49 career home runs with them. Ohtani as a full time pitcher with the Angels already has 33. Because of his efforts, he was selected to the all-star squad as both a pitcher and hitter. On top of that, he will be participating in the Home Run Derby.
Ruth finally called the quits on pitching to become a full time hitter. Apparently, Ohtani has no interest in either despite being told he should specialize and be the next DeGrom or another Yelich. Sports Illustrated did an article regarding this and I wanted share some of the numbers listed in that article…
- If you had to distill the amazement of Ohtani to one sentence, it would be this: he hits the ball harder than Juan Soto (92.5–92.3 mph exit velocity), throws harder than Yu Darvish (95.4–94.8 mph), and runs faster than Randy Arozarena (28.9 -28.7 sprint speed).
- He leads the major leagues in home runs and bunt hits. (He is 4-for-4 when bunting for a hit, an unmatched success rate.)
- Until this year, no player (and we’re looking at you, Babe) ever hit 30 homers and made 10 starts on the mound in the same year. Ohtani did it in just 81 games.
- He is the first AL player ever with 31 homers and 12 stolen bases by the All-Star break.
- Roll this around your head: the major league home run leader also throws the toughest pitch to hit in baseball. Batters are hitting .083 against his splitter, which ties Tyler Glasnow’s curveball for the lowest batting average on any pitch that ended at least 70 at bats. Ohtani has thrown 389 splitters in his career and allowed only nine hits and an .069 batting average on the pitch. No batter has ever hit a home run off the Ohtani splitter.
- After 347 career games of hitting and pitching, Ohtani has a higher slugging percentage than Ruth did at the same point (.552–.541).
- Ohtani is slugging .674 against lefties. Only three left-handed hitters ever slugged that high against lefties in a full season: Stan Musial (twice), Ruth and Lou Gehrig (min. 200 PA).
- Ohtani has thrown almost as many fastballs (515) as he has seen as a hitter (548). He has hit five times as many extra-base hits off fastballs as he has allowed, 25–5.
Ohtani is hitting like Willie Mays and pitching like Roger Clemens at the same point in their careers:
First 332 Games Hitting
First 24 Games Pitching
The archaic and dumbfounded thinking that he should stick one side of the ball…Fuck that. Be the first and only Ohtani. That would be like saying Donald Glover should stick to acting, music or comedy. Why? Just be great at all of it.
Let’s call it what it is, Ohtani is looking like a once in a century player. As much as I hate baseball, I certainly love what I see from it’s biggest star right now. I hope this train keeps rolling because “Shotime” is certainly worth the price of admission and so much more.
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