The fascination with Shohei Ohtani is a product of his novelty. A two-way superstar who can dominate on the mound every fifth day and slug home runs in-between? Can a player really pitch and hit successful at baseball’s highest level?
Well, that speculation has turned into action, and the results have been a sight to behold.
The Los Angeles Angels phenom twirled a gem Sunday against the Oakland Athletics, carrying a no-hitter into the seventh inning and finishing with 12 strikeouts over seven scoreless frames.
Sure, it was against the lowly A’s, but Ohtani has a deadly pitching arsenal — a fastball that touched 100 mph Sunday, a nasty curveball and a devastating splitter — that has lifted him to a 2-0 start with a 2.08 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 13 innings.
Any ballclub would take a pitcher of that caliber. But in case you haven’t heard, the kid can hit, too.
Ohtani has batted in four Angels games this season as a designated hitter and clubbed home runs in three of them, posting a .389 batting average and a 1.310 OPS that’s second in all of baseball.
When’s the last time a player has found this much early success as a pitcher and hitter? Uh, 99 years ago.
Here’s one more stat to put Ohtani’s mold-breaking brilliance into perspective:
Of course, it has been just 10 games. Ohtani’s impressive numbers are somewhat the product of a small sample size, and the biggest question lies in whether Major League Baseball’s grueling schedule will catch up to him and force him to focus on one discipline.
For now, though, sit back and enjoy the show. We haven’t seen a player like Ohtani — a pitcher with a potent enough bat to warrant a lineup spot on his off days — in a long, long time, and so far, the novelty act is worth every bit of the hype.
Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images
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