Say Hey, Shohei
This isn’t jumping the gun, it’s not too early to start singing praises. Shohei Ohtani is special. Not just because he’s attempting something that hasn’t been done in about a century. No no, he’s so special because it’s working.
2-0, 2.08 ERA, and 18 strikeouts is a damn good stat line for a rookie starting pitcher. A .389 batting average with three home runs and seven RBI is a damn good stat line for a rookie designated hitter. They’re both from Ohtani. He’s literally the best of both worlds. And the best part? He’s only 23! The Angels and their fans have been licking their chops all spring.
So long as Ohtani can succeed at the plate and on the mound, he’ll be the brightest star in baseball. Is the next Babe Ruth? I don’t know, but he is without a doubt the most exciting player in all of Major League Baseball. Maybe baseball isn’t so boring after all?
The Ripple Effect
I initially had doubts about Shohei Ohtani, and quite frankly one week does not a season make, so those doubts may still be warranted. However, the writing has been on the wall for a while, a two-way player has been closer than many think.
In last year's Draft, a number of the top prospects were two-way players. The first and foremost being the high school phenom Hunter Greene, followed by Louisville’s Brendan McKay. Both have since been transitioned out of those dual-roles. But they were having the question asked, is it time for a two-way player?
One has to wonder what would have happened had Ohtani come to the MLB last year. Would Greene and McKay still be developing as a pitcher and first baseman respectively? Or would the allure of another Ohtani be too much to pass up. The truly remarkable part about Ohtani is the possibly long lasting effect he’ll have on the game itself. Will kids not put down the bat? How does this affect a pitcher’s stamina? Can Ohtani be a model for the first wave of new elite ballplayers?
Ohtani shoulders massive expectations from his country, his team, the league. But maybe the people he’ll most impact are just starting high school or college ball, and they’ll have the courage to play to their fullest potential.