Since the All-Star break, Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani has pitched better than he has his whole career. However, in a season where he has made so much history at the plate, his offensive numbers have taken a nosedive during that same time frame.
No matter how you look at it, he has been relatively bad at the plate since the Midsummer Classic. In his last 47 plate appearances, he’s batting .122 with a .576 OPS. Expand that to 125 plate appearances and it’s .196 with a .738 OPS. Bring it all the way back to the All-Star break, and he’s batting .217 with a .787 OPS.
Ohtani tried his best to explain why the numbers have been so poor over the past couple months. He theorized that a mix of chasing pitches outside of his zone and missing pitches in his zone have been the culprit, according to Jeff Fletcher of The O.C. Register:
“The last month, I haven’t been really been seeing pitches over the plate where I could put good contact on it, but when I do I need to make sure I put a good swing on it and drive the ball,” Ohtani said through his interpreter. “Otherwise, it’s simple. I just need to lay off of pitches that are close or are balls and swing at strikes.”
Angels hitting coach Jeremy Reed had his own theories, tying back to something that has been a constant topic of conversation surrounding Ohtani this season.
“Fatigue matters,” Reed said. “This guy has gone wire to wire pitching and hitting, and it’s September.”
“There’s the mental grind of being able to game plan for pitching and game plan for hitting, and then also to execute it,” Reed said.
It’s very possible that after multiple months of historic levels of baseball each and every night, Ohtani is simply fatigued. Perhaps then, having just one at-bat on Tuesday, then taking Wednesday and Thursday completely off, is exactly what he needed.
Ohtani already has MVP essentially locked, especially if his final few pitching starts are up to par. However, he has 22 more games to put up some solid offensive numbers. If he can hold his home run crown — currently being threatened by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Salvador Perez — then the case will be closed.
Mike Trout likely out for season
It had been trending this way for quite some time, but it appears that — most likely — Mike Trout will be done for the season. Joe Maddon said that Trout remains hard at work to try and get back, but the clock is ticking, and 22 games simply isn’t enough time for it to be worthwhile.