Shohei Ohtani didnt waste any time cementing himself in MLB and respect is due for being the first legit two-way player in MLB history. Hes a Japanese superstar that is quickly becoming a baseball God in America. He’s a freak of nature, defying the laws of baseball, setting a new standard in player excellence and for what its worth, just seven games into a 162-game season, the early favorite for MVP.
Ohtani plays like he was built in a lab somewhere. Hes the perfect baseball machine. He totes a 100 mph fastball that enabled him to go 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA and 18 Ks in 13 innings and a 0.46 WHIP so far this season.
On Sunday night he introduced his pitching prowess to the world with a masterpiece against the Oakland Athletics, carrying a no-hitter into the seventh inning and finishing with 12 strikeouts over seven scoreless frames.
Ohtani has been tearing it up through his first six games batting .389 with three homers and slugging .889. Its early, but he has displayed the power that was advertised and has made a seamless adjustment to MLB pitching.
Ohtani was the subject of a bidding war in which teams had to pay $23 million to his Japanese club just for the right to negotiate with him. He shunned the New York Yankees in that process to settle in on the West Coast, an area rich with Japanese and Asian culture. Besides, the Bronx Bombers already have their high-priced Japanese import pitcher Masahiro Tanaka.
After struggling a bit in Spring Training as he got adjusted to MLB life, rumblings started emitting from fans and journalists that Ohtani might not be the real deal Holyfield. When he announced his plan to try to be a full-time pitcher and hitter, even his biggest supporters felt he should pick a position. Perfecting one position in baseball is an incredible feat. Excelling as an ace pitcher and a prolific power hitter is unheard of. Hes already the toast of the town, LAs newest superstar.
He has more home runs than Bryant or Judge. He’s struck out more batters than Syndergaard or Sale. His underlying stats are even more impressive. Shohei Ohtani already looks like a star (by @JATayler) https://t.co/lTFkSnEP3c
Weve seen this kind of fan reaction to a Japanese star who found immediate MLB success before with Nomomania.
In 1995, the year the baseball strike ended, Japanese pitching sensation Hideo Nomo exploited a loophole to get out of his Japanese contract, and signed in February, coming to Los Angeles essentially as a replacement for Dodgers legend Orel Hershiser.
In his first start, he tossed five shutout innings, allowing one hit and striking out seven. He was a novelty. A Japanese power pitcher dominating at the MLB level and an instant hit.
After a few Cy Young caliber seasons the league eventually caught up to Nomo and he went from being a dominant hurler with a funky delivery to an average starter with a respectable career ERA of 4.24.
But instead of disappearing altogether, he hung on and pitched into his mid-30s, bouncing from the Mets to the Tigers to the Red Sox, and back to the Dodgers. His last good season came in L.A. in 2003. He went 16-13 with a 3.09 ERA, but he no was no longer the legend who struck out over 230 batters his first three media-hyped seasons in the game.
Nomo wasn’t a power hitter though. Ichiro Suzuki is considered the G.O.A.T among Japanese MLB players because of all the hits he’s accumulated, but the greatest Japanese power hitter to grace the MLB stage was Hideki Matsui of the Yankees who was an icon on rock star levels back in Japan.
Ohtani will undoubtedly get that attention and more considering how social media propels people to instant fame. Eventually, the hype will subside, and he’ll have to bring the ruckus every day for 162-games. We see that talent won’t be a problem for Ohtani, but his durability over the course of the season as pitchers and hitters adjust to his style and how the Angels manage his pitching and hitting load as not to wear him down too quickly will be the ultimate test.
In the meantime, expect to get a heavy dose of Shohei Ohtani. on your socials and radio. As far as the sport of professional baseball goes, hes truly an alien thats literally changing the game.