Shohei Ohtani, who joined the Los Angeles Angels in 2017, has quickly become the team’s brightest star. Before he arrived in the United States, Ohtani had already amassed numerous accolades and awards in Japan, including winning the Japan Series in 2016 and being named a five-time NPB All-Star. He was also recognized as the Pacific League MVP in 2016 and received awards for pitching and hitting.
Ohtani’s rookie season 2018 was remarkable, as he was awarded the AL Rookie of the Year. He displayed exceptional power by reaching 20 home runs faster than any Angels rookie in history, surprising even the most seasoned sports betting experts.
Since then, Ohtani’s career in Los Angeles has been marked by numerous achievements and honors. He was selected as an All-Star in 2021 and 2022, received the MVP title in 2021, and earned two Edgar Martinez Awards. In addition, he was recognized as the AP Athlete of the Year in 2021.
Ohtani’s uniqueness in Major League Baseball is unmatched. He became the first player in history to pitch and face a team’s first pitch of the season. He also made history in the World Series era by qualifying for the leaderboards as both a hitter and a pitcher in the same year.
As a pitcher, Ohtani possesses an arsenal of formidable weapons. His repertoire includes blazing 100mph fastballs, deceptive sliders, and challenging splitters, making him an incredibly difficult pitcher to predict and hit against.
Although the current season has just begun, Ohtani has already positioned himself as an early frontrunner for the league MVP. In a recent game against the Washington Nationals on April 11, 2023, Ohtani pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing only one hit in a 2-0 victory. Despite his impressive performance, Ohtani remains focused on self-improvement, acknowledging the need to reduce his walks.
His remarkable performance against the Nationals marked his tenth consecutive start in which he allowed two runs or fewer, setting a new franchise record. This record was held by Nolan Ryan, who achieved a similar feat in 1972/73. To find the last time Ohtani gave up more than two runs in a start, one must go back to August 21, 2022—an incredible testament to his consistent dominance.
In 2022, Ohtani made significant progress as a pitcher in Major League Baseball, specifically in limiting his walk rate. However, he remains determined to improve further in this area during the current season. The Angels organization has recognized the potential benefits of adjusting its approach to maximize Ohtani’s contributions. They have switched to a five-man pitcher rotation instead of the traditional six-man rotation since the 2018 season.
This adjustment will provide Ohtani with additional starts, but concerns about potential fatigue and disrupting his current routine exist. Angels General Manager Perry Minasian has expressed confidence in Ohtani’s abilities and believes he can adapt to any challenge.
Furthermore, the Angels now utilize PitchCom, which allows Ohtani to receive pitch selection directly rather than relying solely on the catcher. Ohtani has often called his pitches, given his vast range of options. With pitchers now able to control PitchCom, Ohtani has complete command over his pitch selection, enabling him to build upon his impressive numbers with the Angels. This eliminates time-consuming debates and allows him to make quick decisions at his own pace.