Baseball with Shohei Ohtani ‘Why Not?’


DENVER — Every All-Star knows the stress and sacrifice that brought them here. Getting to the top of a sport requires every mental and physical effort. No one can say it comes easy.

Members of the American and National League All-Star teams are stunned when they think of Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels. They think about their own journeys and routines and then double down.

“This is the top of baseball and top performers on both sides,” said Oakland Athletics first goalkeeper Matt Olson. “This is insane. Everyone here is a shooter and a hitter. That’s great.”

Cool and crazy, incredible and unlikely – but not impossible. That’s what makes Ohtani so fascinating. He will serve as the AL’s starting pitcher as well as the front striker at Tuesday’s All-Star Game at Coors Field. At a time when the great old game is often reduced to risk-averse equations, Ohtani lets us daydream.

All of us – perhaps most gamers.

“Why not?” Pete Alonso of the Mets said, who won the second consecutive Home Run Derby Monday night, it beats Salvador Perez, Juan Soto and Trey Mancini. “That’s what happens in baseball. I think baseball needs a ‘Why not?’

In the sport’s final national showcase, the final game of the World Series last fall, Tampa Bay Rays starters kicked Blake Snell out in the sixth half. The Los Angeles Dodgers jumped right into goal and quickly clinched the title.

The Rays could not have imagined the possibility that Snell, who rarely ventured into the depths of the games, could put on a performance that would last a lifetime. They had no faith in the invisible. Ohtani wants us to believe in something that has never been done before.

“It creates the wave, doesn’t it?” said Yankees pitcher Gerrit Cole. “Ahead of wakefulness. Why can’t I see? I’m a dreamer, so I guess anything is possible. We’ll have to beat this risk-reward to keep your bet or not. But the people who admire Shohei and see how he can do it and go beyond expectations are proving that it is possible.”

Major League Baseball will change the rules slightly on Tuesday, allowing Ohtani to serve effectively as two players; Even after leaving the game as a shooter, he could have gotten more bats as a shooter. The first license plate image will go up against Max Scherzer, who says his Washington Nationals teammates used Ohtani to piss him off.

“I still haven’t taken a hit,” said Scherzer, who is 0 for 30 this season. “This guy has 30 tanks and I have no hits.”

Ohtani snatched the most 33 homers in the majors to go with a 4-1 record, 3.49 won run average and 87 hits in 67 innings. Atlanta Braves’ Freddie Freeman, who won the NL’s Most Valuable Player Award last year, and Toronto Blue Jays’ Vladimir Guerrero Jr. He said Ohtani could still be the ALMVP even if he wins the Triple Crown.

Guerrero is league-leading in batting average (.332) and batting runs with 28 home runs (73). But Ohtani’s overall contributions are surprising.

“I don’t know how you measure that,” Freeman said. “We’ve never seen this before in our lives.”

He is right about that. While Ohtani is often compared to Babe Ruth as a world-class shooter and pitcher, Ruth has never made 20 starts and has appeared in at least 200 plate games in the same season. With 13 starts and almost 350 spins this season, Ohtani could be the first to shoulder two such burdens.

“Baby didn’t always do it like this,” said All-Star coach Colorado Rockies manager Bud Black. “For being so talented, it’s like the high school shortstop who was a great defender and then made the second game of the double-headed game at the highest level possible and statistically better than anyone else.”

As a shooter, Ohtani’s splitter makes it particularly difficult to hit. Just a start in the current major league roster, the San Francisco Giants’ All-Star Kevin Gausman beats that pitch more often than Ohtani, who drives 18.6 percent of the time, according to Fangraphs. He shoots aggressively with the splitter, putting him in line with his elite speedball.

“The divider is the biggest thing,” said Olson, who was 8 to 0 with five hits against Ohtani. “The highs ’90s have fastball with a lot of ride, but it’s halfway through to have the straight-down splitter and the playing drive. You have to decide which direction it’s going. Combined with that, it’s just a fluid flick action.”

As a striker, Ohtani has so much power and swings so hard that he doesn’t need to hit the ball precisely to deal damage. It offers several safe zones for pitchers.

“If you look at the scatter chart in terms of hard-hitting balls, it puts them up and down, up and in, down and away, down and in, on pitches with perhaps more movement than speed,” Cole said. Encountering Ohtani 12 times, allowing three hits and a walk. “It forces you to adapt and execute at the same time, which is one of the hardest things to do.”

Olson doesn’t need to shoot, and Cole rarely shoots. As a two-way player, Ohtani overcomes all the challenges they’ve described—“He’s facing himself on both sides of the ball,” as Dodgers pitcher Walker Buehler puts it—and will do it all in Denver, plus the Home Run Derby. .

A body and mind can only take so much, but Ohtani is a dutiful entertainer.

“I expect to be quite tired and exhausted after these two days,” he said through a translator on Monday afternoon. But there are a lot of people who want to watch it, and I want to make these guys happy, so that’s what I’m going to do.”

Sadly, Ohtani needed 45 seconds for his first homer on Monday night before rallying to tie the National Soto in the first round. He was rematched with Soto in a tiebreak, but lost in a three-hit blitz, Soto smashed three homers and Ohtani drew a grounding to finish off the start of the All-Star Game.

“I’m going to sleep a lot,” Ohtani said. “Sleep as much as possible.”


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