Shohei Ohtani needed just four strikeouts on Friday night against the Minnesota Twins to reach a milestone that no player in AL/NL history has ever reached. And when he caught Gary Sanchez looking at a 2-2 curveball in the fourth inning, the Los Angeles Angels star notched his 200th strikeout.
With it, Ohtani became the first player in AL/NL history to have 200+ strikeouts as a pitcher and 30+ home runs as a batter in a season. The same could be said for Ohtani of 200+ strikeouts and 20+ or even 10+ home runs. The most home runs hit by a pitcher with 200+ strikeouts before Ohtani was seven by Don Drysdale in 1965 and Earl Wilson in 1966.
It’s yet another notch in the growing argument that Ohtani could legitimately be considered for the American League MVP award, despite the unparalleled offensive production of New York Yankees star Aaron Judge.
And although it wasn’t a perfect start from Ohtani — 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 6 BB, 7 K — it was enough to secure his 14th win of the season on the mound, also in part due to his RBI single in the late innings to give the Angels an insurance run.
Ohtani spoke about reaching the 200-K club and what it means for his performance this season, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“That’s a big milestone for me,” Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. “It just shows I’ve been able to consistently take the mound every sixth day.”
Ohtani became just the fourth Japanese-born pitcher to record 200 or more strikeouts in a season, joining Yu Darvish, Hideo Nomo, and Daisuke Matsuzaka. He also is the first Angels pitcher to achieve this feat since Jered Weaver accomplished it in 2010.
Angels right fielder Taylor Ward — who hit two home runs in the Angels 4-2 victory — also gave his thoughts on Ohtani’s milestone outing.
“It’s unbelievable what he’s doing,” said right fielder Taylor Ward, who homered twice to reach 21 on the year. “He comes in every day and does his work. It’s just impressive to see his routine every day.”
It’s often those that are around Ohtani every day that find themselves most mystified by his dominance both at the plate and on the mound. By now, it would be assumed that guys like Mike Trout and Ward would grow accustomed to it, but they continue to be in awe at what he can do.
As a batter in 2022, Ohtani is now slashing .271/.358/.534 with 34 home runs, 28 doubles, 90 RBIs, and 85 runs scored. He has an .893 OPS, a 149 OPS+, and a 147 wRC+. This is a slight step back from his 2021 production, but is undoubtedly a great season at the plate.
As a pitcher, though, is where Ohtani has really made his strides. On the season, Ohtani has tossed 153.0 innings, nine away from qualifying for statistical leaderboards. In that time, Ohtani has a 2.47 ERA, a 1.065 WHIP, 203 strikeouts compared to 42 walks, an 11.9 K-per-nine rate, and a 14-8 record despite playing for a team 19 games below .500.
Trout has never seen anything like Ohtani
Even before reaching the 200 strikeout milestone, Trout was making the rounds on “Baseball Tonight with Buster Olney” to discuss Ohtani’s greatness. There, he said that he’s never seen anything like Ohtani with the way he’s able to seamlessly add new pitches to his arsenal while remaining more than effective at the plate.