The Los Angeles Angels jumped out to a 10-7 record this season and entered play Tuesday trailing the first-place Seattle Mariners by only a half-game in the American League West standings.
The Angels lineup has been a bright spot so far, with Mike Trout returning to MVP form while Taylor Ward and Brandon Marsh are showing signs of a breakout season. Although those hitters have found success, other players are looking to break out of their respective slumps.
The group includes Shohei Ohtani, who uncharacteristically has gotten off to a slow start offensively. In 17 games, he is batting just .211/.273/.380 with three doubles, three home runs and nine RBI across 77 plate appearances.
Angels hitting coach Jeremy Reed isn’t concerned about Ohtani’s lack of production and believes his struggles are being magnified, via Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times:
“I mean, it’s so early, we’re talking  at-bats,” Angels hitting coach Jeremy Reed said before the game. “I think if you put these  at-bats in the middle of the year, in June or July, people will kind of go, ‘OK, he’s going through a little rut.’ It just gets magnified when it’s April, and the start isn’t the way you want it, because there’s an MVP on his name now.”
Ohtani most notably appears to be pulling off too many pitches and isn’t hitting left-handed pitchers as well compared to last season. Reed admitted his mechanics could use some tweaking but noted this is common for many players over the course of a season:
“There are times when maybe the balance hasn’t been the same, the landing position is a tick open, and you see some of these swings,” Reed said. “But it happens to Mike [Trout] and to all these guys throughout the course of the year. It’s just a little alarming. But it’s April. We can’t panic. He’s not panicking.”
Amid Ohtani’s slump, Angels manager Joe Maddon dropped him down from his usual leadoff spot to second in Monday’s series opener against the Cleveland Guardians. The 2021 AL MVP went 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts.
Ohtani recently stated that the opportunities for him to produce are there, but that he isn’t being as aggressive as he should be.
Ohtani off to better start on mound
While Ohtani has struggled at the plate, he looks like the same dominant pitcher as years past in his first three starts of the season.
The 27-year-old is 1-2 with a 4.40 ERA, but his 1.18 FIP and 1.05 WHIP with 26 strikeouts against four walks in 14.1 innings pitched suggest he has been fairly unlucky to start his year.
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