On Wednesday, in the Los Angeles Angels series-winning game against the Boston Red Sox, Shohei Ohtani belted a 433-foot home run. This isn’t out of the ordinary for Ohtani — he’s hit 32 of them this season — but his most recent carried a bit of history with it. He passed Hideki Matsui for the most home runs in a season by a Japanese-born player.
Matsui hit 31 home runs in the 2004 MLB season, his second in the Major Leagues. Ohtani not only passed Matsui’s record, he did it by playing half the games. It took Matsui the full 162 games to reach his benchmark, but just 81 for Ohtani.
Matsui, shortly after Ohtani’s 32nd home run was hit, released a statement discussing the two-way superstar’s impact on the game of baseball. “Thirty-two home runs in a season is just a passing point for a hitter like Shohei,” Matsui said. “I was once considered a long ball hitter in the Majors, but I believe that he truly is a long ball hitter.”
“Furthermore, he is an amazing pitcher. He exceeds what is considered conventional for a Major League player and there is no one else like him. I hope he continues his success this season as he carries the hopes and dreams of many fans and young children. As a baseball fan myself, I can’t wait to see what he is able to do next.”
Each and every day, Ohtani seems to do something that defies what traditional baseball looks like. For nearly a century, people discussed Babe Ruth as a mythical legend, because almost no one alive today witnessed him play.
Now, through Ohtani, we can get a glimpse into what it might have been like in the early 1900’s when Ruth was pitching and hitting at an elite level. In the future, there may be questions as to whether or not Ohtani can continue playing both sides of the game at this level. But for now, it’s working, and the Angels need every bit of it.
Ohtani to pitch and hit in All-Star Game
Angels manager Joe Maddon confirmed that he spoke with Tampa Bay Rays and American League All-Star manager Kevin Cash about Ohtani’s role in the Midsummer Classic. After that talk, Maddon made it clear that, in some way, Ohtani will pitch and hit on July 13 in Denver.