Now a little over two weeks into the regular season, it’s safe to assume that any legitimate concerns anyone had over Shohei Ohtani being able to perform are a distant memory. The league still needs to adjust to what the Japanese phenom is doing — which could eventually lead to some bumps in the road — but talk of needing time in the minors is likely done for good.
Since being a legitimate threat as a hitter and pitcher is so rare at the big league level, anything he does will be the first time it’s happened in generations. That doesn’t mean it’s not impressive to watch unfold right in front of our eyes, though.
Ohtani’s homers are getting lots of attention, but he added a triple to his stat sheet Thursday night, which put him in this exclusive club.
The dude’s had a pretty good start to his MLB career, I’d say.
A fun comparison to do throughout the year will be to see how Ohtani’s batting numbers look when side by side with what he’s allowed as a pitcher. As one can imagine, he’s winning that battle rather handily right now.
The comparisons get even more ridiculous upon diving into some advanced numbers. For instance, Ohtani has produced a 32.0% soft-hit rate, 20.0% hard-hit rate, and 23.5% swinging-strike rate as a pitcher, but those numbers are just 0.0%, 50.0%, and 8.3%, respectively, as a hitter.
He’s also making contact on 96.6% of balls he’s swinging at in the strike zone. Opposing hitters haven’t been nearly as fortunate, with that number dipping all the way down to 65.5% at the moment.
And as if this all wasn’t enough to make your jaw drop repeatedly, consider this — among pitchers with at least 10 innings, only Luis Severino (97.7 mph) and Noah Syndergaard (97.3 mph) have an average fastball velocity higher than Ohtani’s (97.2 mph) entering Friday’s action. His three homers as a hitter are also just as many as Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Kyle Schwarber, Manny Machado, Jose Abreu, and Miguel Sano, just to name a few.
After putting up Spring Training numbers that concerned a few people outside of the Los Angeles Angels organization, it was important for him to hit the ground running once the regular season got underway. He accomplished that, and then added some more on top for good measure. His ability on both sides of the ball immediately makes him one of the most interesting players in baseball right now, and that interest probably won’t die down anytime soon.
About Matt Musico
Matt Musico currently manages Chin Music Baseball and contributes to The Sports Daily. His past work has been featured at numberFire, Yahoo! Sports and Bleacher Report. He’s also written a book about how to become a sports blogger. You can sign up for his email newsletter here.