When Shohei Ohtani entered his first MLB Spring Training this season with the Los Angeles Angels, baseball evaluators very much believed in his ability on the mound, but were skeptical of the two-way player’s ability as a hitter.

And “skeptical” is putting it nicely. One scout even told Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Passan in March that Ohtani is “basically like a high school hitter” because he didn’t see curveballs in Japan like the ones major league pitchers throw.

“He’s basically like a high school hitter because he’s never seen a good curveball,” the scout said. “He’s seen fastballs and changeups. And you’re asking a high school hitter to jump to the major leagues?”

Another scout told Passan that hitters “don’t learn on the job in the major leagues.”

“You don’t learn on the job in the major leagues,” another scout said. “You can’t.”

And when Passan suggested that perhaps Ohtani is just such a special talent that he’ll quickly figure it out as a hitter, an AL scout said, “I don’t know if anyone is that special.”

Ohtani’s confidence in his bat is admirable, and perhaps he is the rare sort who can adjust on the fly, whose talent is overwhelming enough to change perceptions overnight. Special players do special things.

“That’s true,” an American League scout said, “but I don’t know if anyone is that special.”

Well, here we are in late August… and Ohtani has ridiculous numbers at the plate.

Ohtani currently has a .274/.353/.548 slash line, with 15 homers, a .380 wOBA, and 146 wRC+. If he had enough plate appearances to qualify among league leaders (he has 259 PA), his SLG would rank seventh in the AL, his wOBA would rank ninth, and his wRC+ would rank eighth. These are elite offensive numbers.

Ohtani’s 15th homer came on Monday night, when he crushed this a Jon Gray pitch 412 feet for a 3-run dinger in Anaheim:

You can see Ohtani’s tremendous opposite field power there, along with his simple stride before the swing. He basically just turns his front foot back. This is a mechanical adjustment he made in the spring, when he ditched his leg kick. Once again, evaluators wondered if he’d be able to succeed with the mechanical adjustment and handle velocity from big-league pitchers. The results clearly show that he’s been able to do that.

And on the mound, Ohtani has been every bit as advertised. In nine starts, he has a 3.10 ERA, 3.28 FIP, and a terrific strikeout percentage of 30.8. He hasn’t pitched in a game since June 6 due to an elbow injury, but he’s working his way back and appears to be on the verge of joining the Angels’ rotation again soon.

The right-handed pitcher has shown off a fastball that sits in the 96-97 mph range and touches 101 mph, to go with wipeout breaking stuff.

Ohtani hasn’t even finished his first major-league season and he’s already shown to be not just one of the best pitchers on the planet, but one of the best hitters as well. The guy is a complete freak. Let’s hope he can have better fortune with his health going forward and put on a show for years to come.

About Matt Clapp

Matt is an editor at The Comeback. He attended Colorado State University, wishes he was Saved by the Bell's Zack Morris, and idolizes Larry David. And loves pizza and dogs because obviously.

He can be followed on Twitter at @Matt2Clapp (also @TheBlogfines for Cubs/MLB tweets and @DaBearNecess for Bears/NFL tweets), and can be reached by email at mclapp@thecomeback.com.

1 thought on “Shohei Ohtani remains absolutely amazing, keeps proving anonymous scouts wrong

  1. Scouts are right 8% of the time for guy’s making the show, that means 92% of the time they’re wrong, name another professional where youre wrong 92% of the time and still get paid.

Comments are closed.