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Smashing The Hype

If you love baseball, you have to be loving every second of Shohei Ohtani this season.

April 09, 2018 - 12:05 pm

If Woods and Mickelson proved anything over the weekend it’s that nothing ever lives up to the hype. Well, nothing aside from Shohei Ohtani, who isn’t just living up to the hype, he’s smashing it into dust.

Let’s recap, shall we? Last Sunday, he made his major league debut as starter, going 6 strong innings, striking out 6, and retiring 14 of the last 15 batters he faced. 

Tuesday, he hit a three-run homer in his first at-bat in Angels Stadium. Wednesday he went deep on reigning AL Cy Young winner Cory Kluber. And on Friday, in the team’s next game, he took one 450 feet the other way for a home run. Homers in three straight games. And that home run on Friday was something else. Just ask Oakland A’ Marcus Semien: “It was loud. The guys on their team talk about how far he hits the ball in BP (batting practice), his raw power. He showed it off there.’’

Great week if it ends there, right? It didn’t. 

Because he took the mound again yesterday and all he did was take a perfect game into the seventh inning. His second major league start and we were already on perfect game watch. That is unreal. And so is the fact that he went 7 innings, allowing one hit, one walk, and struck out 12. Or that he recorded 25 swing-and-misses, which is the highest for a starter in all of major league baseball this year. Or that 12 strikeouts ties the American League record for most Ks in one of your first two career starts. I could spend the entire segment running down numbers and stats that would tell you how special he’s been, but I won’t.

I will say that his fastball is nasty and his splitter is essentially unhittable. Check that. It is literally unhittable, at least the Oakland A’s. They’re 0 for 19 against it. 

And yes, I know some people want to downgrade those starts because both of them came against the Oakland A’s. Because that’s the point – they’d already seen him once before and he still took a perfect game into the seventh. If anyone should have a scouting report on Ohtani, it’s Oakland and he still dominated them. He set down the last eight Oakland batters he faced in his debut and then went through 19 straight yesterday. That’s 27 in a row. In his first two starts. While hitting three home runs in between. 

Right now, his baseball card would read – Batting average: .389, home runs: 3, RBI: 7, ERA: 2.08. That does not compute. It really doesn’t. A rookie shouldn’t be hitting like that or pitching like that. Let along hitting AND pitching like that. And making it look so normal, so easy, and so natural. 

As Angels catcher Martin Maldonado said, “He never looks like he’s out of place. He looks like a hitter when he’s batting and looks like a pitcher when he’s pitching. It’s impressive. We haven’t seen that before.’’

We haven’t seen that before and we might never see it again, so enjoy it while you can. He’s just arrived and he’s already appointment television. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I don’t know how long this will last, but if you love baseball, you have to be loving every second of this.