By Ben Klau ’18
As the MLB season gets underway, a star could be born. Shohei Ohtani, the newest member of the Los Angeles Angels, made a big splash by going three of four on Apr. 3rd against the Cleveland Indians. Headlines read “Real or Not? Dial Ohtani-mania up a notch after his first home run” the day after on ESPN. After a more than rocky start to spring training there had been question if the two way player was going to be able to make it. Having the ability to pitch well is very hard, but being able to hit well on top of pitching is remarkable. According to Fox Sports, Ohtani hit just 12.5 percent of the pitches thrown his way.
Shohei Otani was born in Oshu, Japan in 1994 making him a very young player in the MLB. While in Japan, Ohtani was apart of a team called Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. The Fighters play in the Nippon Professional Baseball. According to Big Reads, this league is “Japan’s top league and the second highest level of competition in the world after the MLB.” Ohtani played in the Nippon league from 2013-2016. During his time in the league he was able to hit 40 home runs and hit 135 RBIs. Not only was he Japan’s best hitter he was also Japan’s best pitcher featuring high 90s fastballs among other pitches. It was no surprise that Ohtani would be making a switch to the MLB. “I kind of heard of him before he came to America as a very good two way player”, Andrew Moy ’19 said.
Ohtani made his debut in the MLB on March 29, 2018 against the Oakland Athletics in what was a shaky pitching performance to start his MLB career. In his second game he proved to all the doubters that he could be a dominant batter in the league. He was able to notch a home run and three RBIs.
His ability to be able to be a consistent batter along with being a dominant pitcher has led for him to be called a modern day Babe Ruth. Buster Olney of ESPN writes “even Babe Ruth really couldn’t maintain what the Babe Ruth of Japan, Shohei Ohtani, will attempt for some major league team in the seasons ahead — to serve regularly as both a position player and pitcher.”
It is unheard of a player to be able to pitch and hit very well in today’s MLB. “I think it’ll be tough for him to be successful both ways. I think it’s more likely for him to find success as a pitcher rather than hitter,” Brian Rabacs ’20 said.
One thing is for sure, Ohtani is enjoying every minute of playing in the MLB. He capped off his batting debut with a curtain call. According to the NY Post, “players broke character and jumped around Ohtani to celebrate, Mike Trout pointed to the field and instructed Ohtani to take a curtain call.”