It was a day to forget for the Los Angeles Angels and their pitchers. The Houston Astros put up 12 runs on five home runs, including a grand slam from Alex Bregman. But before the Astros going their offense rolling, Shohei Ohtani made the first statement of the game.
After Mickey Moniak led off the game with a triple, Ohtani golfed a 1-2 curveball to right field for his 34th home run of the season to give the Halos a 2-0. This came just one day after Ohtani pitched five innings in a winning effort.
Throughout the season, there has been a small segment of baseball fans who believe that Ohtani — and not New York Yankees star Aaron Judge — should win the American League MVP award. Angels shortstop Andrew Velazquez added himself to that list on Sunday, according to Edwin Perez of MLB.com:
“What Judge is doing is historic, and I got to witness last year up close the player he is and teammate he is,” said shortstop Andrew Velazquez, who hit his first homer batting right-handed on Sunday. “He’s very valuable, but no one else can do what Shohei is. He is a top hitter and pitcher — he’s a once-in-a-lifetime player.”
No one can deny how remarkable Judge has been this season. He is making a real bid for the MLB home run record, and leads baseball in a number of major hitting categories. But Ohtani has arguably been better in 2022 than he was when he won the award in 2021.
Ohtani is batting .266 with an .894 OPS and has hit 34 home runs, 88 RBIs, 23 doubles, and six triples with 11 stolen bases. However, he has been a far better pitcher this season than batter.
On the mound, Ohtani is 12-8 over 24 starts with 141.0 innings pitched. In that time, he’s posted a 2.55 ERA, 1.064 WHIP, 12.0 K-per-nine, 2.2 walk-per-nine, 5.37 K-to-BB, and 188 strikeouts, all of which are career bests and would be in legitimate Cy Young consideration with more innings pitched.
Judge is still very deserving of the MVP, and is considered the favorite to win it. However, Velazquez points out the very compelling argument that no one in all of baseball can do what Ohtani does each and every night.
Ohtani throws fastest pitch of career
In his start on Saturday, Ohtani broke out a 101.4 mph fastball for a strikeout of Astros slugger Kyle Tucker. That pitch not only got the out, but it was the fastest pitch he has thrown since coming to the Major Leagues. He would ultimately leave his start early due to a blister.