Major League Baseball is home to many amazing quirks and uncanny facts. Ranging from bizarre no-hitters where the team without hits wins, 4-0, to hitting two grand slams in an inning, America's pastime is unique in its charm. There's a special player that's adding to the lore this season and he plays for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. His name is Shohei Ohtani.
Here's a breakdown of Ohtani; he's a Japanese pitcher that exploded on the scene with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters. When the Angels picked him up, they were looking for an ace to anchor the rotation. They got that ace, for the All-Star has an ERA of 2.79 this season with 120 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.06. He's been known to throw a hard four-seam fastball averaging 96 MPH, along with a slider, splitter, and a cutter. However, that's not his main claim to fame.
What if I told you the league leader in home runs was a pitcher? What if I told you that pitcher was in the American League, where the designated hitter rule reigns supreme? What if I told you that pitcher was Shohei Ohtani? Believe it or not, the Angels superstar tops MLB with 40 dingers, adding 87 RBIs to the mix. The best part of his homers has been that half of them had exit velocities of over 110 MPH. You won't find a swing more pure and graceful than the Japanese All-Star's, especially when he hits it out of the park.
It's been a long time since Major League Baseball saw a two-way star of such a caliber. You'd have to go around a century to find that player; Babe Ruth once held at least one batting title and an ERA title during his illustrious career. Baseball fans don't remember that the Yankees legend also had a stellar season in 1916 with their rival, the Boston Red Sox. He had an ERA of 1.75 and nine shutouts, making him a catalyst in their World Series victory.
That has led people to draw comparisons to the Angels star pitcher, equating him to the Sultan of Swat. However, Ruth never pulled off the feat of being a star hitter consistently the way Ohtani has. The current league leader in home runs also has an ERA below three, making his feats extraordinary.
His memorable year has also led to some breathtaking accolades, including being the first player to start an All-Star game and bat leadoff in the same game. There's also a strong possibility he wins the AL MVP this season, making him the first since Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers in 2011.
Ohtani won't be the last to bring such talent to the table. In Cuba, Oscar Colas is making his way towards the baseball scene in America. The Cuban superstar hit .302/.350/.516 for 11 homers for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks in 2019 and is expected to land on the South Side soon. We might not see the end of pitchers hitting in baseball, after all.
The emergence of the Angels ace has been a story that baseball needed. With the possibility of an off-season strike looming and the pandemic taking place, Major League Baseball needs something to draw public interest. What better way to do that than have a two-way player take the world by storm?