Baseball in Southern California is better than ever right now. The defending champion Los Angeles Dodgers remain the MLB team to beat. The young-and-fun San Diego Padres may be right behind the Dodgers in that regard (and just took three of four from the Dodgers, capped off by an incredible comeback on Sunday Night Baseball). And the Los Angeles Angels may be the most entertaining team to watch right now, led by Mike Trout and an unprecedented modern-day two-way talent in Shohei Ohtani.
On Monday night, Ohtani and Trout put their skills on full display in a 9-4 Angels victory over the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Field.
Ohtani was the Angels’ starting pitcher and got his first victory since 2018. He allowed four runs in the first inning, but followed it up with four scoreless — dominant — innings and struck out a season-high nine batters.
— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) April 27, 2021
Oh, and Ohtani batted second. And for good reason. After all, he’s tied for the MLB lead in home runs with seven.
When Shohei Ohtani takes the mound tonight, he'll be the first pitcher to start a game while also leading the league in HR since …
Babe Ruth, 100 𝔂𝓮𝓪𝓻𝓼 𝓪𝓰𝓸. 😱 pic.twitter.com/FsG650VD9p
— MLB (@MLB) April 26, 2021
Ohtani continued to produce with the bat, going 2-for-3 with three runs scored, two runs batted in, and a walk.
With the Angels trailing 4-1 in the second inning, Ohtani smoked a 113.8 mph two-run double down the right field line.
A 113.8 MPH rocket by the pitcher. 😉 pic.twitter.com/mUvKbewPUY
— MLB (@MLB) April 27, 2021
He also added a bunt single.
Classic pitcher bunting. 🤣
That's Ohtani's second hit tonight. 👀 pic.twitter.com/dWvbHrEfFq
— MLB (@MLB) April 27, 2021
Shohei Ohtani today …
* one dreadful inning
* four dominant innings
* a hit on a 113.8-mph line drive
* a hit on a 52-foot bunt
* three runs scored
I don't know if he can keep this up for a full season, but I sure as hell hope he keeps trying.
— Alden Gonzalez (@Alden_Gonzalez) April 27, 2021
#Angels Shohei Ohtani is the first American League pitcher to have 2+ hits and 3+ runs scored in a game since Jim Perry for Minnesota on May 1, 1971 at Boston.
— Matt Birch (@MattBirch12) April 27, 2021
Then there’s Trout, who’s even topping his usual baseball’s best self so far in the 2021 season. Trout went 4-for-5 with a double (112 mph that one-hopped the wall) and two runs batted in, after missing the previous three games due to getting hit by a pitch on his left arm.
Mike Trout has three hits in three innings. The last one was a 112 mph missile for a double.
The elbow seems fine. pic.twitter.com/xKVppQJDaB
— Brent Maguire (@bmags94) April 27, 2021
Trout is putting together absolutely absurd numbers in the early going. He leads the majors in batting average (.426), on-base percentage (.539), slugging percentage (.820), OPS (1.359), and wins above replacement — WAR — according to FanGraphs (1.8; and again, that’s even with him missing a few games). He’s looking like the MVP favorite, as usual.
But Trout may be getting some competition from Ohtani — valued by FanGraphs at a combined 1.2 WAR as a hitter and pitcher — for that award if the two-way star can keep it up.
One thing that we know for sure: the Angels are going to be a lot of fun to watch, especially on the days Ohtani pitches (and hopefully keeps batting on those days too).