Much has been talked and written about how Los Angeles Angels teammates Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani faced each other in the ninth inning of the 2023 World Baseball Classic final game with the title on the line.
The bases were empty and there were already two outs, but a Trout home run would have changed the entire landscape.
Instead, Ohtani struck out Trout to give Japan its third WBC title in five tries.
There were some things about the at-bat that make the feat more impressive than Ohtani is given credit for.
“If you aren’t impressed, you should be. Mike Trout has had 3 swinging strikes in only 24 of his 6,174 career MLB plate appearances!” Codify Baseball tweeted.
If you aren't impressed, you should be. Mike Trout has had 3 swinging strikes in only 24 of his 6,174 career MLB plate appearances!pic.twitter.com/VTlcRnAgPH
— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) March 22, 2023
Trout has a career 1.002 OPS and 350 home runs at age 31: just those two numbers tell you how special he is.
To fool him three times in the same at-bat is something reserved for the truly elite pitchers.
Ohtani has shown time and time again that he certainly qualifies as such.
The first two swinging strikes came on 100-mph fastballs down the middle, showing that Ohtani was not afraid of Trout.
The last one, after taking the count to 3-2, was a filthy slider that would have probably been called as a strike if the future Hall of Famer hadn’t swung through it.
It was one of the best sliders ever thrown considering the context and situation.
You could very well say it was a championship-caliber slider.
We hope to see Ohtani and Trout playing in a competitive environment in MLB, with the Angels fighting for a postseason spot.NEXT: Mike Trout Declares His Intentions For The Next WBC