Shohei Ohtani has batted only 19 times and faced just 45 hitters since making his MLB debut, and yet what he has shown us seems significant. After all, wouldn’t it be impossible to do what he has done if he were anything other than a star in the making?
He pitched well in his first Angels start and took a perfect game into the seventh inning of his home pitching debut. In 13 total innings he has a 2.08 ERA with 18 strikeouts compared to two walks and four hits. At the plate, he’s been just as impressive, hitting .389/.421/.889 with three home runs and four singles.
As Angels catcher Martin Maldonado told USA Today over the weekend, “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.”
To this point in the season, Ohtani has more home runs than Aaron Judge and more strikeouts than Max Scherzer, as Alex Putterman noted on Twitter. Here are some more memorable numbers from Ohtani’s first 10 days in the big leagues…
23.5 Hitters have whiffed on 23.5 per cent of Ohtani’s offerings, which means he has been tougher to square up than Scherzer, Chris Sale, Noah Syndergaard or any other starter to throw a pitch this year. For context, Corey Kluber and Scherzer, the eventual 2017 Cy Young winners, led MLB last year with whiff rates of 15.6 per cent and 15.5 per cent, respectively. Even Craig Kimbrel, who led all relievers in whiff rate, induced swinging strikes on 19.8 per cent of his pitches.
99.6 Ohtani topped out at 99.6 m.p.h. Sunday, and he’s averaging 97.2 m.p.h. with his fastball. Only two starters are averaging harder fastballs: Luis Severino and Syndergaard.
16 Even with a powerful fastball, Ohtani relies heavily on his off-speed stuff. He threw 34 splitters Sunday, and hitters whiffed on 16 of them.
100 Ohtani’s making legitimately hard contact at the plate. The ball has left his bat travelling at least 100 m.p.h. on eight different occasions, matching sluggers such as Giancarlo Stanton, J.D. Martinez and George Springer. It’d be one thing to hit .389 because you fluke your way into a few singles. That’s not what Ohtani’s doing, though. You can’t luck your way into 449-foot blasts or homers against Kluber.
3 Ohtani homered in three consecutive games then struck out 12 as a pitcher later in the week. Only two other players in baseball history have ever combined a three-game homer streak with a 10-K game in the same season: Ken Brett in 1973 and Babe Ruth in 1916.
29.8 Not only can Ohtani pitch and hit, he has already demonstrated elite sprint speed by approaching 30 feet per second on the bases.