Through Ben Verlander
FOX Sports MLB Analyst
in 2021, Shohei Ohtani put together arguably the best all-around season in baseball history and thus the unanimous winner of the American League MVP Award†
What kind of encore can you produce for such a virtuoso performance?
Well, without as much fanfare, and despite Ohtani not quite up to speed with last year’s offensive numbers, Ohtani is currently putting together a 2022 campaign that still ranks high on the list of the best seasons we’ve ever seen.
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Perhaps the two-way phenomenon of the angels is assembling the second best season we’ve ever seen – behind only his MVP year that redefined the numbers we deem possible for a single player.
On Tuesday night in Anaheim, Ohtani’s superhuman abilities were on full display.
In the bottom of the sixth of a slugfest against the Royals, Ohtani hit an undoubted three-run homer that brought the Angels to two runs.
Then in the bottom of the ninth, with LA three and two men aboard, he got the stage perfect for him to do something special.
Which of course he did.
On a 2-2 count, Ohtani fired a three-point shot into the night to tie the game. He stood and admired the explosion to right field for dramatic effect.
While the Angels went on to lose the game 12-11 in 11 innings, Ohtani ended the evening 3-for-4 with two homeruns and eight RBI’s.
As usual, the performance sent our FOX Sports research team into the record books to contextualize stats that have either been rarely seen before or never done by anyone who has ever played the game.
Ohtani became the first Angels player to have eight or more RBIs in a game since Garret Anderson in 2007 (when he had 10 in a game, which is the all-time franchise record).
He became the first Japanese-born player to ever reach eight RBI in a game.
He is also one of only four players to have four or more multi-home run games this season, as well as one of only four players to have multiple games of five or more RBIs.
It was a magical night for Ohtani, and I watched it in awe.
As I’ve written before, we’re looking at the modern Babe Ruth. There is no better way to describe it than that.
Don’t let Ohtani’s historic 2021 season color your appreciation for what he’s doing in 2022. It’s easy to get caught up in comparing players to their best seasons and be less impressed if they don’t match the numbers.
LeBron James and Mike Trout, two all-time greats who also call LA their home, are both examples of this. You can make a very good argument that those two are the MVP of being healthy every season. Sadly, the award is given to others due to the fact that Trout and James could be turned down their MVP years.
It could be easy to have the same philosophy with Ohtani. Don’t let it happen.
And keep in mind that Ohtani is on track to have a higher average and more RBIs by 2022, while also hitting nearly 40 home runs.
Aside from those great numbers on the record, Ohtani is still a very good pitcher, with a 2.94 ERA and striking out 89 in 67.1 innings on the mound.
I think John Smoltz did it best on my”Flippin’ Batspodcast: “If only he was a pitcher, he’s Jacob deGrom.”
And, oh yeah, that incredible performance Tuesday came the night before a game in which he threw seven innings of a double with one walk, fanned 12 and reached three safes.
Shohei Ohtani is truly incredible in every sense of the word.
Ben Verlander is an MLB analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the “Flippin’ Batspodcast. Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Verlander was an All-American at Old Dominion University before joining his brother, Justin, in Detroit as a 14th round pick of the Tigers in 2013. He spent five years in the Tigers organization Follow him on Twitter @Ben Verlander†
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