Japanese-born MLB Rookie Is Finding Success Pitching And Hitting Like No Other Player
It’s common baseball knowledge that teams select pitchers based on their pitching ability, not their hitting, as pitchers are notoriously less talented at bat. In 2017, however, one player from Japan announced his intention to join the Angels — after being courted by many teams — in a capacity the game hasn’t seen since the advent of the American League’s designated hitter rule in 1973.
Shohei Ohtani was a baseball unicorn. He showed promise to succeed as both a hitter and a pitcher, serving as a designated hitter and a pitcher.
The Angels may have played only a fraction of their 162-game season, but Ohtani — in the face of culture shock and stratospheric expectations — isn’t just meeting expectations … he’s knocking them out of the park. His 100-mph fastball is as potent as any rookie’s in the game. By the end of his outing on Sunday, he had caused 25 batters to swing and miss, leading the league.
As for his performances at the plate, he’s tallied up three home runs, tied with teammate Mike Trout, who is widely regarded as the best hitter in Major League Baseball.
To any non-fans out there, it’s difficult to express just how rare this skillset is, especially at a level as high as we’ve seen in these early weeks of the season. While it may not offer too much context, Ohtani’s value is quantified in the ranks of fantasy baseball, where he’s logging gaudy stats in two roles.
While no team has seen a two-way juggernaut like Ohtani in many years, “two-way players” aren’t without precedent. A Red Sox pitcher and batter was able to produce some truly historic numbers at the plate while also serving as a competent pitcher. His departure from the team to the Yankees caused Sox fans for almost a century to rue the “Curse of Babe Ruth.”
The Angels are also getting a historic bargain with their historic player. The 23-year-old cut his teeth in Japan putting up compelling numbers, but his arrival in the majors relegated him to rookie status, which affords him a scant $545,000 per year atop a $2.3-million signing bonus. Not bad for a year’s work, but the Atlantic conservatively estimated the true value of his contract at over $200 million back in December — before he began proving his worth.
To reiterate, the Angels are only about 1/16 through their 2018 campaign, and baseball is a notoriously streaky sport, so we’re likely getting ahead of ourselves here, but when such a wonderful anomaly exists, how can you not get excited at headlines like this?
Share image via MLB/YouTube.
Team Fox Athletes Race Toward A Cure For Parkinson’s Disease “If I can do it, anybody can do it.”
Hope Solo Believes The High Cost Of Youth Soccer Is Hurting The State Of The Game Club soccer can cost families $17,000 a year, according to a recent report.
Surfer, New Mom, And Philanthropist Alana Blanchard Wants To Help Young Female Surfers Realize Their Dreams The cost for young surfers to compete can be daunting without major sponsors and brands to help with travel and contest fees, so she created the Alana Blanchard Foundation.
‘Workers Cup’ Film Highlights The Complicated Preparations For The 2022 World Cup In Qatar, workers balance their love of soccer with the burden of treacherous work conditions.
Becky Hammon Becomes The First Female Assistant Head Coach In All 4 Major U.S. Sports She may have a head coaching gig in her sights as well.
Dear Gymnastics: I Still Love You Grieving for and appreciating the sport that’s taken a beating since the Nassar scandal.
Who Is A Fan Of The World Cup? The Answer Might Surprise You. They tend to be healthy, vegan, and animal lovers, a new report suggests.
NBA Legend Oscar Robertson Asks Why More White Athletes Aren’t Speaking Out About Social Injustice “Where are the white athletes?”
Professional Surfer Morgan Sliff Makes Waves in Male-Dominated Waters She’s advocating for more equality in the sport for female surfers.