Shohei Ohtani, popularly known as the Japanese Babe Ruth, is so far living up to the mythical Ruthian standard as the Los Angeles Angels star dominates the competition at the plate and on the mound.
While the entire baseball world has been swept away by his two-way brilliance this early in the season, 23-year-old Ohtani might just be starting to heat up. In an inside report by veteran MLB scribe Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, one rival scout noted that Ohtani probably has the game’s best pitches in his arsenal.
The scout said the Angels rookie’s splitter looks like the hardest pitch to hit in baseball, while the player’s fastball may be the second best out there. He also compared Ohtani to some of the MLB’s legendary pitchers, including three-time CY Young winner Pedro Martinez.
“One scout said that as a pitcher he may have the best pitch in the game (his splitter) and the second best (his fastball), and also that he is reminiscent of Pedro Martinez, Dwight Gooden and Jose Fernandez in their heydays, and maybe only a few others.”
A rival GM also believed that Ohtani would provide more problems for opposing hitters, especially if he continued to replicate his performance in his second career start against the Oakland Athletics last Sunday when he flirted with a perfect game into the seventh inning of that game.
After a worrisome Spring Training stint, Ohtani posted historic feats through the first two weeks of the regular season, becoming the first player in 99 years to record three homers along with two wins in his team’s first 12 games. Jim Shaw of the Washington Senators did the same feat in 1919, and he wound up with four career homers.
Sports analyst Keith Olbermann doubled down on the hype in an interview with Bob Ley of ESPN’s Outside the Lines, saying baseball hasn’t seen the likes of the Japanese ace and the Babe Ruth comparison is insufficient to describe his torrid start.
The freakish thing about Ohtani is he’s also tearing it down as a batter. In 24 plate appearances, the Angels star is putting up 0.364/0.417/0.773 with three homers, eight hits, and eight RBIs. He recorded his first career hit against a lefty on Wednesday, connecting on a 1-2 fastball from Texas Rangers’ Matt Moore to give the Angels’ its first run in an eventual 7-2 victory.
Despite his phenomenal start, Ohtani is aware that he will hit a rookie wall at some point and the real work will begin from there. However, it isn’t hard to marvel at this once-in-generation talent that is currently the biggest attraction in all of baseball.