Shohei Ohtani is a man of many talents. The Los Angeles Angels pitcher and designated hitter is doing things on the baseball diamond that have not been done in over 100 years. The 26-year old is even drawing comparisons to Babe Ruth!
Back in April, Ohtani became the first league home run leader to open on the mound as a starting pitcher since Ruth in 1921 (go.com). Geez, talk about being in legendary company! The Japanese phenom has been on a tear at the plate of late, and he currently leads the American League with 13 bombs! Here are three things you probably didn’t know about Ohtani.
His Nickname is “Sho Time”
Teammates nicknamed Ohtani “Sho Time” because of his rare ability to dazzle fans, both as a dominant pitcher on the mound and a powerful home run hitter at the plate. Ohtani was a baseball prodigy in Japan and even considered going straight to Major League Baseball right out of high school. Instead, Ohtani chose to spend five years in Japan’s professional baseball league with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. Ohtani made the Nippon Professional Baseball All Star team in each of his five seasons in Japan.
Ohtani Burst onto the MLB Scene in 2018
Ohtani was a household name in Japan but a relative unknown in America. However, that all changed in 2018 when Ohtani signed with the Los Angeles Angels and started dominating the American League! In fact, Ohtani smacked 22 home runs, drove in 61 runs, and batted a respectable .285 (Shohei Ohtani Stats | Baseball-Reference.com).
And, oh yeah, he looked unhittable as a starting pitcher as well by posting a 4-2 record with a 3.31 earned run average. He also struck out 62 big league hitters in only 51.2 innings pitched. This fine season allowed Ohtani to take home the American League Rookie of the Year award for the 2018 season.
One underrated part of Ohtani’s game is his speed on the bases. The 6-4, 210 pounder runs incredibly well for a big man. He has 35 career stolen bases so far and that number should only increase.
Ohtani is Arguably the Most Exciting Player in Baseball
Sure, Ohtani’s Angels teammate Mike Trout may get the majority of headlines (and deservedly so). However, Ohtani is a human highlight reel when he is on the mound or at the plate. Fans never know when Ohtani is going to make a hitter look silly by blowing a 100 mile an hour fastball by them. (Fun fact: Ohtani has hit over 101 on the radar gun on numerous occasions) Also, don’t forget the 450 foot moonshot home runs that he hits with regularity.
It will be exciting to see how the American League MVP race sorts itself out in 2021. Ohtani and Trout should both remain in the thick of the race for the prestigious award this season assuming they both can remain healthy. Angels fans will not be shocked if Ohtani ends up with over 50 home runs this year, which would again bring up comparisons to the great Babe Ruth.