The MLB world was shocked when Japanese super star, Shohei Ohtani, signed with the Los Angeles Angels. With a 100 mph fastball and 20+ home run potential, Ohtani was set to be the league’s first two-way star since Babe Ruth. So, let’s look back on the impressive rookie season of Shohei Ohtani.
Ohtani became the fourth Japanese born player to win Rookie of the Year, the first since Ichiro Suzuki. He’s also the first player in MLB history to hit 20+ home runs and strikeout 50+ batters in a season. The former Nippon Ham Fighter also led AL rookies in OPS with a .925 OPS.
While Ohtani did not play a lot, what he did in limited time was impressive. He led AL rookies in AB/HR (14.82), AB/RBI (5.34), finishing the year with 22 HR and 61 RBI in only 367 plate appearances. Ohtani’s arm was just as impressive as his bat, finishing top 3 among rookie pitchers in K/9 (10.97), opponent batting average (.203), and WHIP (1.16).
This season, Angels fans got a taste of Ohtani’s potential. It all started with the first series of the year against the Oakland A’s. Ohtani got his first major league hit and his first major league start in it. He went one for five with a single and struck out once. His pitching debut went a little better, going 6 IP with 6 SO, giving up 3 runs.
After his debut, Ohtani’s bat got hot. His next game, he hit a 3 run home run against two time Cy Young winner Corey Kluber. This started a three game stretch where Ohtani hit a home run. His power had clearly translated from Japan to the US.
Ohtani continued to hit well against some of the league’s best. He hit home runs off of Luis Severino, Justin Verlander, Corey Kluber, and Mike Clevinger. Those pitchers had a combined 2.96 ERA in 820.1 IP, 3 CY Young awards, and 12 All-Star appearances. The rookie seemed to have no trouble against the MLB’s best.
While Ohtani established himself against some the league’s best, he also produced some clutch moments in his first MLB season. His first was a broken bat, game tying single against the Toronto Blue Jays, that ended with a win for the Halos. His other big moment was against the cross town rivals in the Los Angeles Dodgers. Ohtani hit a go ahead pinch hit HR in the 7th inning, leading to another Angels win.
OHTANI. CLUTCH. Shohei Ohtani with a 2-run single to tie the game for the @Angels
The baseball world was devastated to hear the news of Ohtani’s impending Tommy John surgery. To see another young talent succumb to the surgery was not the news a building Angels team wanted to hear. However, Ohtani punctuated a strong rookie season by hitting two HR’s the day it was announced he needed surgery. Again, Ohtani hit two HR’s with one good elbow. In fact, after the news he needed surgery he hit six HR’s with a .991 OPS.
The #Angels told Shohei Ohtani this afternoon he needs Tommy John.
So tonight, he went:
4-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 1 SB, 4 R.
Shohei Ohtani the pitcher was shelfed due to injury, and we likely won’t see him pitch until 2020. Despite only pitching 51.2 innings, Ohtani impressed with five quality starts in 10 starts. Of those starts, his most impressive was his April 8 start against the A’s. He gave up no runs in 7 innings with 12 strikeouts. From start to finish, Ohtani was dominant in his second career win.
His Mother’s day start against the Minnesota Twins was just as dominant. Ohtani cruised through 6.1 innings, allowing 1 ER and striking out 11. Not to be outdone by himself, Ohtani impressed in his very next start against the Tampa Bay Rays. He gave up 2 ER over 7.2 innings, striking out 9. Over a two game period, Ohtani gave up 3 ER over 14 innings, and striking out 20 batters.
Shohei Ohtani impressed in his first MLB season, at the plate and on the mound. While Ohtani will likely DH most of 2019, there is still hope for him to become a dominant two way player for the Angels. Until then, let’s enjoy the talent and skill of one of the league’s best young players.
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