This article appeared in the October 06, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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Baseball’s Shohei Ohtani: Challenging the limits of what’s possible

Michael Owen Baker/AP/File
Los Angeles Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani during an MLB game against the Seattle Mariners, Sept. 26, 2021, in Anaheim, California.

As the Major League Baseball playoffs begin (Go, Red Sox!), we would be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the majesty of a once-in-a-century player. 

Japan’s Shohei Ohtani is the first true two-way player in U.S. baseball since Babe Ruth. Like Ruth, Mr. Ohtani has challenged the concept of sports specialization and redefined the limits of what’s humanly possible.  

Mr. Ohtani didn’t just hit and pitch for an entire season, in 2021 he was an elite starting pitcher and elite batter. He’s “pulled off the most amazing season in baseball history,” wrote Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci. 

Mr. Ohtani’s team, the Los Angeles Angels, didn’t make the playoffs. But he’s in the running for both the American League’s Most Valuable Player and the Cy Young Award as the best pitcher. He swings with power and pitches with finesse, and he is among the league’s fastest base runners. 

Mr. Ohtani finished third in home runs (46). By the end of August, he had hit the most homers 430 feet or more (15). On the mound, he throws five different pitches, and his fastball gets even faster later in the game. Mr. Ohtani’s split-finger fastball is the best pitch ever thrown in terms of effectiveness against batters, according to Baseball Savant. 

Yet, one of baseball’s top aces, Max Scherzer, says Mr. Ohtani is still developing as a pitcher. In August, Mr. Ohtani agreed: “I’m getting better each outing, and I still haven’t hit my potential yet.

Baseball fans can’t wait to see what Mr. Ohtani does next season.

This article appeared in the October 06, 2021 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 10/06 edition
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