A typical MLB Home Run Derby during All-Star week is host to the best home run hitting position players. This season is seeing an unexpected contestant: a pitcher. To most who are not aware of what is happening in Anaheim they do not realize that this is not just any pitcher. This is Shohei Ohtani who is becoming one of the greatest two way players in history.
Early Years in Japan
At the age of 18, in 2013, Shohei Ohtani, who is from Japan, made his professional baseball debut with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, a Japanese professional baseball team. . Through his first season he showed his skills as a pitcher, position player and hitter. Although his numbers were not Rookie of the Year caliber he still finished 3-0 as a starter and hit .238 in 204 plate appearances.
He continued to play in in Japan for the four years where he quickly became one of the biggest names. In 2014 he was named to his first All-Star game. After continued success he made the All Star game the next two season. In 2015 he led the league in many pitching stats including wins, winning percentage, ERA, complete games and shutouts.
As his pitching went to a new level his also hitting became a sight to behold. In 403 games with the Nippon Professional Baseball he had 296 hits, 70 doubles, 48 homers and a .286 batting average.
All of these numbers caught the attention of many teams in the MLB and in 2018 he made the move.
An MLB Sensation
On December 8, 2017 the Los Angeles Angeles signed Shohei Ohtani and has taken his opportunity in LA to turn himself into one of the premier players in baseball.
Prior to Ohtani’s arrival in the MLB, the most recent two way star was Babe Ruth who played 22 seasons from 1914 to 1935, so it makes sense why there was is much hype around him. It is also safe to say he has not let the fans down.
Solid Rookie Season
In his rookie season he played in 114 games. The way he started the season it looked like we was going to be unstoppable. He picked up his first career win in his first MLB start on April 1 where he went six innings and struck out six. On April 3rd he hit his first homer and then did it again the very next game which was the first time and Angels player hit homers in his first two career home games.
Unfortunately in mid-April he started down a path of injuries and was only able to start 10 games on the mound. He finished 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA and 63 strikeouts. Although it was not the perfect season the Angels were hoping for he still did his job when he got the chance.
The other side of the plate is where he really flourished. In 366 plate appearances he recorded 93 hits, 21 doubles, 22 homers, 61 RBIs and a .285 batting average.
No Keeping Ohtani Down
The 2019 season was a little bit of shorter season, only 106 games, as he was dealing with injury issues. Due to Tommy John Surgery in the 2018 offseason he did not get to pitch, but he was back at it from the batters box. In 423 plate appearances he In 366 plate appearances he recorded 110 hits, 20 doubles, 18 homers, 62 RBIs and a .286 batting average.
The shortened 2020 season was another decent year for him. He only got two starts and 175 plate appearances and finished with a .190 batting average, but he has been on another level in 2021 .
Off the Charts in 2021
A full season where Ohtani is completely healthy has not been completed yet in his short MLB career. Thankfully, through two and a half months it has been about as perfect as can be.
In 10 starts on the mound Ohtani is 3-1 with a 2.70 ERA and 73 strikeouts, but as usual he is making the most noise with a bat in his hands.
In 275 plate appearnces he is hitting .270 with a .615 slugging percentage, 61 hits, 15 doubles, 19 homers, and 47 RBIs. Almost a third of his hits (31%) are going over the outfield walls which is a better ratio than the current home run leader in the American League (Vladimir Guerrero Jr.: 27%).
His insane amount of damage done at the plate has turned him into a must see player. Now he is ready to put on at the Home Run derby during All Star week on Monday, July 12 at Coors Field in Denver Colorado.
Shohei Ohtani is in the early stages of one of the most impressive careers in all of baseball. There is so much more to see moving forward, but for right now all baseball fans are waiting to see him demolish some baseball through the thin air of Denver. Now the anticipation rises to see if he will battle against Vlad Guerrero Jr. or Fernando Tatis Jr., both of whom lead the MLB with 22 homers.
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