Shohei Ohtani hasn’t yet been able to put together a full season in Major League Baseball, but the flashes of brilliance from the two-way pitching and hitting star make him as unique a player as there is in the sport.
The Angels star is healthy to start the 2021 season and made his first start of the season on Sunday night against the White Sox, and came out dealing, throwing a 101 mph fastball in the first inning and showed off a filthy splitter later for a strikeout of the red hot Yermin Mercedes.
Shohei Ohtani, 101mph Fastball and 92mph Splitter, Overlay pic.twitter.com/E6wCdEakov
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 5, 2021
Ohtani isn’t the only pitcher in the bigs that can touch triple digits on the gun and mix in some filthy movement in the low 90s, but he is the only one who can do that and do this. Shohei batted second in the Angels lineup in his first start of the season, and rewarded that decision by hitting a mammoth home run in the first inning to give himself a 1-0 lead before returning to the bump (I highly recommend having the sound on because it sounds like it was shot out of a cannon).
As for how rare that combo is, he’s the first pitcher to hit a first inning home run since Carlos Zambrano did it (twice) in 2006, largely because pitchers never bat at the top of the order. On top of that, Ohtani now sits atop the Statcast leaderboard in both starting pitcher fastball velocity and exit velocity for a home run this first weekend of the season.
In a word, the man is preposterous and hopefully we can get a full season of him showing off his talents because it really is something baseball hasn’t seen, at best, in a very long time and possibly ever.