The two-way star made his final home start (and perhaps his final overall start) of the 2021 season on Sunday, and he was electric.
He tossed seven innings of one-run ball and fanned 10 batters.
After the game, he spoke with the media, and he delivered a very interesting message.
The man wants to win.
Shohei Ohtani, who remains under team control through 2023, said there hasn't been any extension talks yet.
"I really like the team, I love the fans and the atmosphere as a team. But more than that, I want to win. That's the biggest thing for me. I'll leave it at that."
— Rhett Bollinger (@RhettBollinger) September 26, 2021
Can you blame him?
The soon-to-be AL MVP has every right to want to play for a contending team.
If that’s not with the Angels, it’s going to be somewhere else.
Angels Organization Has A Lot To Prove
The Angels have Ohtani locked up for two more seasons before he’s a free agent.
In other words, the team has two years to prove to the 27-year-old that it’s serious about putting a contending product on the field.
Now, to be fair, the Angels deserve somewhat of a pass for the 2021 season.
When Mike Trout misses substantial time with an injury, all bets are off.
However, that doesn’t excuse the team’s miserable bullpen (sixth-worst in MLB by ERA) or rotation (ninth-worst in MLB by ERA).
Those areas inarguably need to be addressed in order to make the team a contender.
The Angels are about to complete their sixth straight losing season, and that’s simply unacceptable.
The #Angels lost 5-1
Ohtani: 7 IP, 1 R, 10 K, 0 BB
Quijada and Warren: 4 runs
The Angels (74-82) guaranteed their sixth straight losing season.
— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) September 26, 2021
Will they prove to Ohtani that the future will be different?
Ohtani Deserves To Play For A Winner
Let’s just take a moment to appreciate what Ohtani has accomplished this season.
At the plate, he’s slashing .258/.371/.595 with 45 home runs, 25 doubles, and seven triples.
He has a 158 OPS+ and 153 wRC+.
Players with 45+ HR, 20+ SB and 6+ triples in a season:
Willie Mays (1955)
Shohei Ohtani (2021) pic.twitter.com/1RbpLQJg1j
— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) September 26, 2021
On the mound, he’s got a 3.18 ERA, 3.51 FIP, and 1.09 WHIP.
He has fanned 156 batters in 130.1 innings.
He even got the starting nod for the American League in the All-Star Game.
Shohei Ohtani has struck out 150 batters.
He's also hit 45 homers.
Shohei is one of a kind. pic.twitter.com/KcuWfvbvv6
— MLB Stats (@MLBStats) September 26, 2021
Overall, Ohtani has a mammoth 8.9 WAR on the season.
He’s a lock to win the AL MVP award.
Obviously, the superstar is a generational talent.
He’s dominant on both sides of the ball, and he will likely be in the MVP conversation every single year that he stays healthy.
There is nothing more valuable than a player who is capable of essentially packing two full seasons’ worth of production (one season as a hitter and one as a pitcher) into one campaign.
Doesn’t a player like this deserve to play for a contender?
It’s time for the Angels to get real about the direction of their organization.
In the upcoming offseason, will they prove that they’re serious about turning things around?
Some powerful people in the organization seem to hope so, with Trout being one of them.
“This offseason’s going to be big,” Trout said recently. “Obviously, there’s a lot of money to spend. Hopefully, we go out there and get some big guys. I trust (general manager) Perry [Minasian]. I trust the top guys in this organization. We talk every day.”
Manager Joe Madden is of the same mindset.
“Listen, what’s your agenda next year?” Maddon asked. “Is it to participate in the American League West, and hopefully, possibly make it to the end and play a game in October? That should never be the situation.
“My point is, we have to get guys that we think are ready to win right now in that rotation in order to get where we want to be. Otherwise, we’re going to keep perpetuating this method.”
It’s clear that frustrations are running high.
It sounds like L.A. has big plans fo the offseason, but we’ve heard that many times before.
If things don’t change, Ohtani’s stay with the organization won’t last much longer.