His pitching and hitting excellence knows no limits, but in this case, he is chasing a record that only requires him to maintain his regular workload as a pitcher and play almost every day as a batter.
Of course, that is quite an achievement on itself.
As it turns out, Ohtani is chasing a record he broke last year.
MLB stats guru Sarah Langs has more details.
“Updating this! Most pitches faced + thrown in season, since pitch counts tracked (1988): 2021 Shohei Ohtani: 4,621; 1999 Randy Johnson: 4,584; 2022 Shohei Ohtani: 4,483; 1998 Curt Schilling: 4,387; 2001 Randy Johnson: 4,380. h/t the wizard @JasonBernard_,” she wrote on Twitter.
Most pitches faced + thrown in season, since pitch counts tracked (1988):
2021 Shohei Ohtani: 4,621
1999 Randy Johnson: 4,584
2022 Shohei Ohtani: 4,483
1998 Curt Schilling: 4,387
2001 Randy Johnson: 4,380
h/t the wizard @JasonBernard_
— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) September 13, 2022
In short, we didn’t track pitch counts until after 1988, so it’s logical than some of the game’s workhorses back then, Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson, are on the list.
Ohtani Is Challenging His Own Records
Baseball started to evolve slowly, but surely, after the late 1990s and especially in the 2010s.
Starting pitchers were no longer required to go six or seven innings, so the average number of pitches thrown by starters went down in recent years and it has become a trend.
Nowadays, starting pitchers’ main workload measure unit has become outs, or “times through the lineup.”
So how can Ohtani lead a list of pitches thrown + faced?
Well, because he sees a lot of pitches as the Angels’ semi-regular DH and everyday offensive player.
He has an .894 OPS as a hitter, and a 2.55 ERA as a hurler in 141 frames.
Will he have enough time to break the record he set himself in 2021?
Only time will tell, but it’s yet another storyline to watch.