Shohei Ohtani isn’t the best two-way player since Babe Ruth. He is better.
When Shohei Ohtani joined the Los Angeles Angels in 2018, he was immediately anointed the “Japanese Babe Ruth”. It turns out that comparing him to one of the most influential figures in American sports history could have been grossly unfair.
What Ohtani is doing is far more impressive.
Ohtani, the two-way feeling armed with Nolan Ryan’s fastball on the mound and Ken Griffey Jr.’s power at home plate, is halfway through what could become the most remarkable season of all time. As the game’s top players descend on Denver for the All-Star Game this week, Ohtani leads the major leagues with 33 homers. Five of those explosions traveled over 450 feet, the largest number. He also has the best slugging percentage in baseball at 0.698, is tied for the American League lead with four triples and has stolen 12 goals.
He accomplished all of this while simultaneously establishing himself as the Angels’ top pitcher. He has a 3.49 ERA in 13 starts, a number that would be nearly lower if it weren’t for a disastrous outing against the New York Yankees last month. He struck out 87 batters in 67 innings, or 11.7 in nine innings. His four-seam average fastball was measured at 95.5 mph.
Ohtani is now the first player to be selected as an All-Star as a pitcher and hitter. If he can continue that level of production for a few more months, his paradigm-shifting performance would reshape what was once thought possible on a baseball diamond. No one has ever done anything like this before, not even the legendary Babe.