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There’s a great chance that we will witness history at the conclusion of the season. Actually, we are witnessing history already after a week and a half of the 2018 Major League Baseball season.
During this past offseason, there was a buzz in the air about a certain Japanese player named Shohei Ohtani. He was not only a stud pitcher, he was a standout hitter as well who hits for power.
In 2016 in Japan, his batting average (BA) was .322 and he hit 22 home runs in 104 games. In that same season, he appeared in 20 games as the starting pitcher posting a 10-4 record and an ERA of 1.86.
Ohtani, the hot commodity, decided to sign with the Los Angeles Angels. This year so far, he has started four games as the DH (Designator Hitter) batting a whopping .389 BA and he’s homered in three straight games.
On Sunday, he started his second game as the pitcher. He flirted with a perfect game going into the sixth before he walked and allowed a hit. After Sunday’s win, he’s 2-0 as a starter and has a 2.08 ERA with 18 total strikeouts and a WHIP of 0.46.
It’s easy to deem him as the second coming or even speculate if he could be the greatest player ever if he keep this going. The problem is, Japanese players have the tendency to start their MLB careers looking spectacular only to cool off in a short amount of time.
For instance, Hideo Nomo entered the MLB in 1995 with the Los Angeles Dodgers and he took the league by storm. His tornado like windup confused hitters. He eventually started the All-Star Game and won Rookie of the Year. He posted a 29-17 record in his first two seasons and had ERA respectively of 2.54 and 3.19. After that, his combined record for the rest of his career was 96-104 with a 4.98 ERA.
Ichiro Suzuki (which currently plays with for Seattle Mariners) has been an exception to this conspiracy. Suzuki is a 10-time All-Star, 10-time Gold Glove Award winner and won an MVP (2001). Besides him, there have been 49 other former Japanese players who either had a so-so career or started out hot and then faded away without anyone else noticing.
The Chicago Cubs ace pitcher Yu Darvish might be another exception as he has had a very good career so far.
Ohtani is doing something special right now and if he keeps this going for this one year, he will be remembered forever in the MLB. The question is how long can he keep this up? Will he end up like his native players countrymen or can he be great throughout his carer like Suzuki.
What’s great about this is we get to watch and witness something the modern day fan has never seen before which sounds very reminiscing of another baseball legend and arguably the greatest player ever.
Hopefully he continues to be great and we can enjoy the luxury of possibly watching history.