Shohei Ohtani is setting records less than two weeks into the Major League Baseball season. The 23-year-old who is playing his first season in America is doing the impossible. After a lackluster spring training performance baseball has now taken notice and has begun comparing him to the greatest player of all time Babe Ruth.
Ohtani was named this week’s AL MVP because of his 12 strikeouts recorded as a pitcher against the Oakland Athletics and his 3 home runs hit as a Designated Hitter. He’s sitting on a 2-0 record with a 2.08 ERA and a .389 batting average according to BaseballReference.com. In his first at bat at Angel Stadium he hit a home run. Certainly storybook stuff but then followed it up by hitting a bomb off of the reigning Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber the next day. Watching Angels highlights I think he’s got better power than his teammates Albert Pujols and Mike Trout who have 820 career home runs combined.
On MLB Tonight Billy Ripken, Greg Amsinger, and Sean Casey discussed the awards that Ohtani could possibly win this season. As it sits now he could be looking at winning the American League Rookie of the Year, the Cy Young award, and the American League MVP. That’s a lot of hardware for a player that most of the media had written off after seeing him in Arizona this spring.
All Star Weekend this July in Washington DC adds an entire new set of possibilities. Could we actually see him participate in the Home Run Derby and then pitch for the American League in the All Star Game the next day? It’s a real possibility but would the Angels and his Manager Mike Mike Scioscia allow it?
This is something we may never see again a pitcher who can also play in everyday the line up. Today kids in the US are becoming so specialized in their sports. Young athletes only competing in one sport or playing one position instead of being well-rounded by other sports and teams. Demanding travel team schedules force parents and kids to stick with that one sport and not branch out to something else.
Young athletes growing bodies get beat up by the repetition of their lone sport and only position. This focused approach also doesn’t allow them to interact with other teams and other team members. Removing the option of playing on a team or in a sport that is better suited physically or mentally for them.
Baseball scouts and media beat Shohei Ohtani up prior to the start of the season. There was a lot of doubt surrounding his ability to pitch and hit in the Majors. I was even on board with them after a friend of mine watched Ohtani pitch his debut in Tempe this April. He said Ohtani was having trouble getting the ball to the plate and his 100 mph speed was nowhere to be found. Thank you for proving all of us wrong Shohei. The discussions about your athletic abilities are exciting and we all need to sit back and enjoy your show.
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