Shohei Ohtani is one of the best pitchers in all of Major League Baseball, making him a very fun player to watch. Oh, did I forget to mention he is also one of the best hitters in the game as well?
Fans, meet Shohei Ohtani — the man who is saving baseball.
Two-way players are rarely seen at the professional level, and when they are seen, they are not really great at both pitching, fielding and hitting like Ohtani. Let’s face it, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred continues to change the game, trying to appeal to a younger audience and angering the day-one fans. However, Ohtani is bringing in new fans without doing anything that is detrimental to the game.
Ohtani can hit 100 mph on the radar gun, and then hit a 400-foot home run five minutes later. He is one of the most exciting players to ever step on the field and is changing the game for the better.
Ohtani’s Road to the Show
Shohei Ohtani just celebrated his 28th birthday in early July but still has a long MLB career to go. Let’s take a look at what led him to the position he is in today.
Standing at 6-foot-5, Ohtani was one of the hardest throwing pitchers in Japan in high school. He began his career being drafted first overall by the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters (a great name) in the NPB draft. Ohtani was convinced to sign – although he wanted to go to the MLB immediately – primarily because the team allowed him to pitch and hit.
During his rookie season, he struggled but was still voted to the All-Star Game. Ohtani hit .238 with a 4.23 earned-run average, which did not meet his high standards. The Japanese sensation continued to get bigger and stronger, which vitally improved his game. Ohtani’s best season came in 2015 when he posted a 1.86 ERA, leading the Ham Fighters to Pacific League and Japan Series championships.
It was 2017 when the world of baseball changed forever. Every MLB organization was astounded by this prospect, but he wanted to play in the American League so he could DH and pitch. Unfortunately for National League teams, the rule had not been changed yet. Just like that, the Ohtani show began when he signed with the Los Angeles Angels.
Ohtani’s Impact on the MLB
Not only is Ohtani a marvel to watch for fans in North America, but he is an inspiration to millions of Japanese baseball players as well. Ohtani’s impact is global and continues to grow.
Ohtani’s journey with the Los Angeles Angels began in 2018 when he, to no surprise, won Rookie of the Year. He slashed a .285 BA, .361 OBP, and .564 SLG with 22 home runs and 61 RBI. Through 10 games and 51.2 IP, Ohtani went 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA. He was a no-brainer to win Rookie of the Year, and this was only the beginning.
Let’s fast forward to 2021, his MVP season. Ohtani had a 4.9 WAR, .257 BA, .372 OBP, and .592 SLG to go with 46 homers, 100 RBI, and a league-leading eight triples and 20 intentional walks. He was no slouch on the mound either. Through 23 starts, he went 9-4 with a 3.18 ERA in 130.1 IP. Ohtani is simply what the award says he is — the most valuable player in the league.
The MLB All-Star is coming off an MVP season and does not appear to be slowing down. Ohtani’s biggest impact is that he is making baseball fun again. Manfred can make whatever changes he wants, but Ohtani will always keep the game exciting.
Get used to seeing Ohtani jersey’s around town, because he is not going anywhere.
Will Shohei Ohtani stay with the Angels? Read more about the MVP’s future.