The Los Angeles Angels leaned on the shoulders of their two-way star Shohei Ohtani in 2021 after Mike Trout was lost for the season with injuries. They were rewarded by Ohtani unanimously winning the American League MVP.
Unfortunately, his 2022 got off to a slow start by going 5-for-29 while only registering one walk and two extra-base hits with 10 strikeouts.
After just 30 plate appearances to start the a year following a shortened Spring Training, there was nothing to panic about following his 46 home run season with a .965 OPS at the plate while amassing a 3.18 ERA and 156 strikeouts over 130.1 innings as a pitcher.
Following Thursday’s road game against the Texas Rangers, Ohtani said the opportunities for him to produce were there, he just wasn’t being as aggressive as he should be, via Sam Blum of The Athletic:
Shohei Ohtani said he thinks he's getting more pitches to hit with Mike Trout protecting him in the order. He said he's just not swinging at enough strikes yet.
— Sam Blum (@SamBlum3) April 15, 2022
In the second game against the Rangers, Ohtani deposited a first-pitch fastball from Matt Bush into the right-field bullpen for his first home run of the season. He followed that up with a two-run shot in the top of the fifth inning on a cut fastball in the heart of the zone.
While Ohtani felt his approach at the plate was causing his struggles, he remained positive throughout the small slump and was seen in the dugout giving his bat CPR to try to revive it, via Bally Sports West:
— Bally Sports West (@BallySportWest) April 13, 2022
With a revived bat and a more aggressive approach, Ohtani will look to build on Friday’s success and try to follow his MVP 2021 season with an even better one.
‘Ohtani rule’ included in CBA
In the new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) between MLB and the Players Association (MLBPA), the Ohtani rule stipulates that if a starting pitcher is also hitting in the lineup, that player shall remain the designated hitter even after being pulled from the start.
That rule will allow Ohtani to stay in the game and the Angels won’t lose one of their best bats and will maintain an extra bench guy they otherwise would have lost with last year’s rules.
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