It’s really important we don’t take Shohei Ohtani for granted.
The Los Angeles Angels pitcher is coming off the greatest two-way season in the history of MLB — yes, even better than Babe Ruth — and he may very well surpass it this year. He is a talented unprecedented in baseball, but he’s become so big it’s hard to even remember how impossible the idea of him seemed as a prospect.
So when he does something like, say, post a two-homer, eight-RBI performance, then strike out 13 batters across eight shutout innings, we should probably do our best to appreciate it. Therefore, let’s talk about the last two days.
Ohtani posted arguably the best offensive game of his career on Tuesday when he went 3-of-4 with two homers and eight RBIs, the latter a career high, against the Kansas City Royals. Unfortunately, because there is a reason the “Tungsten Arm” O’Doyle tweet went viral for a reason, the Angels lost 12-11 in extra innings.
The next day, with Ohtani on the mound, the Angels didn’t waste him. Or rather he didn’t let them waste him.
One day after going off at the plate, Ohtani threw eight scoreless, striking out a career-high 13, allowing only two hits and walking one in a 5-0 win. Oh, and he went 1-for-3 with two walks for good measure.
On the season, Ohtani is now hitting .260/.336/.487 with 15 homers, 45 RBI and seven stolen bases in 298 plate appearances while holding a 2.90 ERA and 90 strikeouts in 68.1 innings pitched. Those pitching now ahead of pretty much everything he did last season on a per-inning basis, while the hitting numbers are a step back but still ridiculous given that Ohtani is pitching every fifth or sixth day.
In a world where the 2021 season didn’t exist, Ohtani would be the biggest story in baseball. But it did happen, and the biggest story in baseball doesn’t quite work when it’s the same thing two years in a row, even as Ohtani wades through the impossible.