Ohtani Goes Where Only Babe Ruth Has Gone Before
As if it needs any clarification, spring training is just that.
Many a brow had begun to furrow when the Japanese Natural, Shohei Ohtani, didn't exactly have a spring that lived up to his billing.
Could it possibly be due to the 23-year-old was adapting to a different culture, different surroundings, and well knew it was spring training?
Seems like dude had a plan, and it's coming together quite nicely.
It was all but inevitable that Ohtani was gonna duplicate Babe Ruth's legendary feat -- in his extraordinary 1921 season -- sometime this year, namely:
- Win as a starting pitcher, and
- Homer as a position player.
Dude didn't waste any time, either.
Six strong innings in his mound debut put paid to the former, as the Los Angeles Angels downed Oakland, 7-4, on Mon 5 Apr:
Ohtani didn't make his batting debut until the Halos' second home game, getting plugged into the lineup in the No 8 slot, where more fastballs is often the order of the day.
He got a few from Cleveland's hurlers, enough to go 3-4, which included his first MLB bomb as Los Angeles pasted the Indians, 13-2:
Dude's got a hint of Ichiro Suzuki in that stroke, doesn't he?
Anyway, just to show that dinger wasn't a fluke, Ohtani did it again the next day.
If the Angels get into the playoffs by a mere one game, this could've been it.
Ohtani's for real. For this week, anyway.
And it wasn't just The Babe that he tracked down:
- He's also the first player with four hits, a homer, and a win in his first six games since Boston’s Wes Ferrell in 1937; and
- He's the first rookie with at least three hits and a win in his first six games since Dutch Stryker of the 1924 Boston Braves
The trick now is to keep him from being burned out from all his two-way heroics.
If the Angels have ever had a plan before -- and if any club's got a shaky history in that regard, it's them -- this is one they'd better mind.
Ohtani can definitely offer them a few tips on its advantages.