Over the first week of his MLB career, Shohei Ohtani has not just met expectations. He has shattered them.
In his first big-league at bat, the Japanese rookie singled to right field. In his first start on the mound, he struck out six, allowed only three hits, and flashed some nasty stuff. In his first plate appearance at Angel Stadium on Tuesday night, he smashed a three-run home run. And on Wednesday afternoon, he stepped into the batter’s box in the bottom of the fifth inning against reigning AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, and…
Shohei Ohtani knows a thing about encores. pic.twitter.com/Lmmw5HNecq
— MLB (@MLB) April 4, 2018
That, folks, is a 400-foot opposite-field dinger off one of the best pitchers in baseball, a guy who had taken a no-hitter into that inning (before an Andrelton Simmons bunt broke it up). In other words, it’s about as impressive a home run can get.
Ohtani’s success at the plate these past two days has been exhilarating because it suggests this whole two-way-player experiment is more than a gimmick. Entering this season, everyone knew Ohtani could pitch, but many observers wondered whether he could truly hit at a level that justified at-bats in the DH spot or if he was just another pitcher with a little power. And although a couple games don’t mean too much in a long season, it seems clear already that the 23-year-old is more than a Madison Bumgarner or Carlos Zambrano at the plate.
Shohei Ohtani can hit, and the MLB season just got that much more exciting.