Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani is known for his dominant splitter and his ability to force swings and misses with any of his pitches. However, it’s his batting that has been the best part of his game during the 2021 season.
In 41 plate appearances, Ohtani is slashing .333/.366/.744, giving him an OPS of 1.109. He’s also hit three home runs and leads the Angels with 11 RBI’s. His best game of the season at the plate came Monday against the Kansas City Royals, when Ohtani went 3-for-5 with two doubles, three RBI’s, and the hardest hit ball of the MLB season.
A two-run double off the right field wall reached an exit velocity of 119 mph, making Ohtani only the fifth player in the Statcast era to achieve this.
Joe Maddon was amazed by Ohtani’s ability to hit the ball at that speed, and recalled the moment he saw it after the game, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“I looked up and there she was, and I looked at Gags and said ‘Did you see that right there?’” Maddon said. “It’s impressive. He’s an impressive athlete. And right now, he can’t feel any better about himself or have any more self-confidence.”
Beyond just the one impressive hit, Ohtani is noticing a trend of harder hit balls and better contact that he wasn’t getting during his first three seasons. He credited this change to his lower body being at full strength.
“My lower body is there and I’m feeling strong,” Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. “I think that’s the biggest difference from last year. I think if it was last year, I wouldn’t have been able to hit the ball that hard.”
Ohtani has statistically been one of the hardest hitters in all of baseball this season. He also gets better contact with the bat than anyone in the MLB according to Statcast. Ohtani is currently third in the American League in RBI’s as well.
The Angels star has always been a power hitter, but he is starting to get more consistent contact, and the results are astounding to watch. He has rivaled Mike Trout as the Angels best hitter during the early part of the season, and the hope is that he can continue this level of play.
Anthony Rendon on 10-day IL
The Angels third star, Anthony Rendon, will spend at least the next 10 days out of the lineup as he recovers from a groin strain suffered in their last loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. Maddon was hoping to avoid an IL stint, but it was always the most likely scenario.