He is a unique player with a one-of-a-kind skillset, which is better explained by the ‘slugger/ace’ moniker in the first paragraph.
No one in the league can do what he is currently doing.
Some of the best pitchers in the league, like Jacob deGrom for example, can have a respectable at-bat and even have a hit every once in a while.
A few position players can pitch a mop-up inning if needed.
But no one can do both at such a high level: only Ohtani.
The Art Of Hitting And Pitching
Hitting is an extremely difficult activity that requires years of experience, natural ability, and lots of training.
Imagine standing on a baseball field trying to hit a small ball that is coming your way at 100 miles per hour, or trying to put the bat on the ball at a mid-80s knee-buckling curveball.
It requires a lot of skill.
Now, imagine throwing a ball at more than 99 mph with surgical control and command, and complementing it with two or more secondary offerings to keep hitters honest.
Doing both at a high level is actually a stupid idea, and that’s what makes Ohtani so unique.
The odds of devoting a lifetime to hone both hitting and pitching skills and being successful at both are very, very slim.
They are both just so specialized, specific tasks that training and preparation to be successful at one of them can take years.
By The Numbers
Ohtani is the ace of the Angels’ rotation, seeing how righty Dylan Bundy has failed to replicate his 2020 success.
Through the first half of the season, the Japanese sensation is currently rocking a 3.49 ERA in 13 starts, by far the best starting pitching line on an otherwise disappointing staff.
He is also striking out 11.7 batters per nine innings, and continually blows 100 mph heaters past batters.
His trademark splitter has become a sensation in the league.
Now, picture your ace leading the league in home runs after three months.
Far-fetched, isn’t it?
Ohtani is currently slashing .276/.362/.692 with 31 home runs and a 1.054 OPS.
Shohei Ohtani’s 31st home run of the season. What the hell man pic.twitter.com/7LdrL2Jci7
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) July 4, 2021
He is so good that he made the All-Star team as a pitcher and a hitter.
Ohtani makes history again. pic.twitter.com/xA4jPjTF1T
— MLB (@MLB) July 4, 2021
He also has 12 stolen bases, proof that he can also run like few others.
Ohtani can also lay down a mean bunt, not that he needs to do it often.
There Will Be No Other Like Him
Baseball is full of surprises, but chances are that we won’t see anyone like Ohtani, at least not soon.
Coaches at formative levels often discourage players to pursue a career doing both things, hitting and pitching.
It’s just too hard to be successful at both of them, and most instructors and coaches tend to believe that trying to make it as a two-way player will diminish their chances of making it as a performer of one of the roles.
Ohtani is truly a generational player, and we should enjoy him and his career while we can.