Sport The Best Player in the World? Inside Shohei Ohtani's Unmatched Skills
Ohtani strong in return to mound as Angels beat Mariners 8-2
The Los Angeles Angels beat the Seattle Mariners 8-2. Ohtani (3-1) made his first start on the mound since April 24. The two-way Japanese star looked to be completely in rhythm and showed no effects, striking out six.
Shohei Ohtani arrived in the major leagues cloaked in intrigue. Hailed as the “Japanese Babe Ruth”—no pressure—he signed with the Los Angeles Angels intending to do something that seemed impossible: thrive simultaneously as a starting pitcher and an everyday batter, a feat hardly attempted, let alone accomplished, in a century.
Scouts predicted the 23-year-old Ohtani would quickly give up hitting and focus his energies on the mound. A dismal spring training even raised questions about whether he should open the season in the minor leagues. It suddenly wasn’t clear he was all that good as a hitter or pitcher.
Odell Beckham Jr. can apparently play baseball, too
New York Giants star wide receiver hit batting practice tonight in Anaheim ahead of the Angels game against the Tampa Bay Rays. OBJ sported a throwback Devil Rays jersey of current Rays pitcher Blake Snell, who brought in OBJ as his guest for the night. The roots of their relationship is unclear, but it gave OBJ the opportunity to show off his swing..@OBJ_3 can CRUSH. pic.twitter.
Nobody questions Ohtani anymore. He entered Thursday with a .325 batting average, five home runs and a .963 OPS. As a pitcher, he owns a 3.58 ERA in six outings, racking up 43 strikeouts in 32 2/3 innings, or nearly 12 per nine.
Essentially, take all of the best skills of the sport’s most elite players, wrap them up into one freakish athlete, and you end up with Ohtani. Veteran Logan Morrison, whose Minnesota Twins whiffed 11 times in 6 1/3 frames against Ohtani last Sunday, put it this way:
“With what he does on the mound and with the bat, he’s probably the best player in the world.”
Aaron Judge emerged as a rookie sensation a year ago because of how hard he hit the baseball—94.9 mph off the bat on average, the best in the majors. Ohtani has nearly matched that, posting an average exit velocity of 94.1 mph, revealing his remarkable ability to consistently make solid contact.
Tim Tebow is suddenly on the rise
The New York Mets are falling apart. Like, literally, injuries are once again crumbling this roster. They’re clinging to a 21-19 record while currently enduring a 4-10 skid. Which brings us to Double-A outfielder Tim Tebow.No, he’s not going to be joining the Mets anytime soon — like, next week or something to that effect. But there’s not a non-zero chance that he gets a call-up this season. So let’s start with what we know. Per The New York Daily News, outfielder Juan Lagares is likely to miss the rest of the season with “a complete tear of the big toe plantar plate, a supporting ligament of the toe, on his left foot.”Ouch.
Perhaps the best example of this came on April 27. Yankees ace Luis Severino threw him a 97 mph fastball. Ohtani hit it back out at 112 mph, sending it over the right-field fence for a homer. So basically, the best hitter against Shohei Ohtani the pitcher might be Shohei Ohtani the batter.
Lots of pitchers throw hard in 2018. Almost none of them throw as hard as Ohtani. His average fastball travels at 97.1 mph, trailing just two starters in baseball: Luis Severino of the Yankees (97.6) and Noah Syndergaard of the Mets (97.5). Ohtani has thrown six pitches that reached 100 mph; Severino and Syndergaard have thrown four combined.
And when Ohtani needs even more, he rears back and finds it. Twice this season, Ohtani has thrown fastballs clocked at a ridiculous 101 mph. No other starter in the majors has gone above 100.2. Now remember Ohtani’s slider averages 82 mph, and it’s not hard to see why he piles up the strikeouts.
Gary Sanchez leads Yankees’ offense in 8-3 win over Royals
The Yankees were rested and ready for blast off on Saturday. Gary Sanchez hit two homers, Aaron Hicks, Gleyber Torres and Giancarlo Stanton also went deep, as the Bronx Bombers beat the Royals 8-3 at Kauffman Stadium.BOX SCORE: YANKEES 8, ROYALS 3The Bombers had looked rusty in Friday's 5-2 defeat. They didn't have an extra-base hit in that game.Luis Severino (7-1) didn't have his best stuff, but managed to get through six innings, allowing three runs on eight hits. He walked two and struck out six. Chad Green, Dellin Betances and Aroldis Chapman finished with a scoreless inning each.
The one at-bat that sums up the breadth of Ohtani’s skills came on April 12. He was thrown a 97 mph fastball, he smacked it 106 mph--and then came his most impressive feat: sprinting to third base, for a triple, in 11.49 seconds. Ohtani’s average sprint speed this season, 28.1 feet per second, is well above average. Early in the season he reached almost 30 feet per second, a rate only surpassed by the sport’s elite speed demons. So, among other ways he’s changing the game, he’s also tearing down the convention that a designated hitter is a lumbering slowpoke.
When Ohtani took a perfect game into the seventh inning in April, it was the coming out party for one of the most devastating pitches in baseball: his split-finger. He threw it 33 times. Batters swung and missed on 16 of them. In all, batters have swung and missed on 29.4% of his splitters this season. Meanwhile, the starting pitcher with arguably the best splitter in baseball, Masahiro Tanaka, only got batters to swing and miss on 23% of his last year. So far, Ohtani has thrown 136 split-fingers. He hasn’t given up a hit on any of them.
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Ohtani-Tanaka pitching matchup falls apart, for now .
At least one part of the matchup between Shohei Ohtani and Masahiro Tanaka will occur. Just not the one many were hoping to see. Just not the one many were hoping to see.