Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani enjoyed one of the greatest individual seasons in MLB history last year en route to winning the 2021 American League MVP Award and plenty of other hardware.
Ohtani batted .257/.372/.592 with 26 doubles, eight triples, 46 home runs, 100 RBI and 26 stolen bases in 639 plate appearances (155 games), and also went 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA, 3.52 FIP and 1.09 WHIP with 156 strikeouts across 130.1 innings pitched.
Ohtani continued drawing comparisons to Babe Ruth for his ability to produce at an elite level on both sides of the ball. However, one could argue Ohtani is even better as Ruth didn’t have the physical tools that make the 27-year-old great.
When asked how he would fare against himself on the mound, Ohtani guessed he would go 2-for-9 with one double, one home run, one walk and five strikeouts, via Daniel Riley of GQ Sports:
You’re facing yourself for 10 at bats: What happens?
He understands me without Ippei’s translation and laughs his high-pitched laugh. Then he thinks very hard before responding. He is throwing pitches, swinging at pitches, seeing pitches from both sides.
“Five strikeouts. One walk. One homer. One double. Last two: a fly-out and a groundout.”
Very specific, I say.
He laughs. “I try to get as real as I can.”
While it’s difficult to say which aspect of the game he’s better at, some believe Ohtani is a more dominant hitter than pitcher. For Ohtani to predict he would only record two hits in 10 plate appearances against himself, it puts into perspective how rare his skillset is.
Ohtani’s contributions last season may never be seen again, but he and the Angels are confident he can repeat a similar performance in 2022. If they’re right, Ohtani could cement himself as perhaps the best player in baseball just before reaching free agency.
Naomi Osaka & Kei Nishikori feel they relate to Shohei Ohtani’s rise to stardom
Ohtani’s meteoric rise from Japan to MLB has been nothing short of inspirational. Two people who took a similar path are Japanese tennis stars Naomi Osaka and Kei Nishikori.
Both — like Ohtani — were massively famous in Japan before making the move to the United States, bringing their otherworldly talent and stardom along with them.
Osaka is the first player ever from Japan to be ranked No. 1 by the Women’s Tennis Association and Nishikori is the first Japanese male in the Open Era to rank top five in the world.