Shohei Ohtani is on a whole other planet right now. It takes a truly special talent to even be considered in the same realm as Mike Trout, but Ohtani is doing it, comfortably sharing the spotlight and elevating his game to a level of dominance that should have him as the front-runner for the American League MVP race. Not only that, but he’s doing it as a two-way star that is eviscerating the competition from the batter’s box and mound.
Ohtani the hitter would be in the conversation alone. He’s slashing .263/.313/.612 with a .925 OPS. He’s leading the league in home runs with 13, and is tied for second in RBI with 32. He has multiple moments of late-game heroics, adding to the legend that is this mammoth at the plate.
Oh, and he also throws 101 miles per hour, and is tied for 10th in the majors with a 2.10 ERA. He also has held opponents to a .126 batting average, which is the lowest in MLB (minimum 25 innings pitched). What’s scary? He’s still improving. Over his last two outings, against the Tampa Bay Rays and the Houston Astros, he threw a combined 12 innings, striking out 17, while giving up just one run. That lone run was a solo home run by Kyle Tucker.
In terms of value, a fully healthy Ohtani is clearly the most valuable asset in baseball, and Angels manager Joe Maddon is still figuring out how to use him, and how to use him creatively.
Last week, after Ohtani struck out 10 over 7 innings against the Astros, Maddon put Ohtani in right field in order to keep his bat in the lineup.
Ohtani is on his way to becoming the best two-way baseball player since Babe Ruth. It’s not hyperbole to say it — the numbers back it up. Ohtani recently became the first player since 1900 to record 30 strikeouts and hit 10 homers in his team’s first 30 games. Ohtani and Ruth are the only players in baseball history to post seasons with 30 strikeouts and 10 homers — and both did it twice, roughly 100 years apart. Last month, Ohtani also became the first major league home-run leader to make a pitching start since Ruth did it on June 13, 1921.
The season he’s putting together is magical. He is currently on pace to become the first player in MLB history to drive in 100 runs and strike out 100 batters in the same season — something Ruth never did.
If Ohtani continues his torrid season — and can stay healthy, which has been. a challenge — compiling insane stats such as the ones above, putting together a season that can only be compared to that of the greatest baseball player of all time, there’s no question he will be the AL MVP. Ohtani is appointment television, and get a good look — we might never see a two-way baseball player like him again.