It’s really important that we don’t take Shohei Ohtani for granted.
The Los Angeles Angels pitcher is coming off the greatest two-way season in MLB history — yes, even better than Babe Ruth — and he could very well top it this year. He’s a talented player unparalleled in baseball, but he’s grown so big that it’s hard to even remember how impossible the idea of him seemed.
So when he does something like, say, post a performance of two homers and eight RBIs and then strike out 13 batters in eight shutout innings, we should probably do our best to like him. So let’s talk about the last two days.
Ohtani posted arguably the best offensive game of his career on Tuesday when he went 3 of 4 with two home runs and eight RBIs, the latter a career high, against the Kansas City Royals. Unfortunately, because there is a reason O’Doyle’s “Tungsten Arm” tweet went viral for a reason, the Angels lost 12-11 in extra innings.
The next day, with Ohtani on the mound, the Angels didn’t waste it. Or rather he didn’t let them lose him.
A day after starting at the plate, Ohtani threw eight scoreless runs, striking out a career-high 13, allowing just two hits and scoring one in a 5-0 victory. Oh, and it went 1 for 3 with two steps for good measure.
On the season, Ohtani is now hitting .260/.336/.487 with 15 homers, 45 RBIs and seven stolen bases in 298 plate appearances while holding a 2.90 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 68.1 innings. launched. Those now pitching pretty much everything he did last season per inning, while hit numbers are a step back but still ridiculous considering Ohtani pitches every fifth or sixth day.
In a world where the 2021 season didn’t exist, Ohtani would be baseball’s greatest story. But it happened, and baseball’s greatest story doesn’t quite work out when it’s the same thing two years in a row, even as Ohtani goes through the impossible.