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    • Over the last couple of seasons, Shohei Ohtani has dominated the Japanese professional league on both sides of plate, where he was arguably the best hitter AND the best pitcher over that stretch. As of today, he's only 23 years old, throws 100 mph, and can hit a baseball 500 feet. He's in his first year in the MLB with the Los Angeles Angels.

      Everyone knew he was good. Some have gone as far to say Ohtani is the next Babe Ruth. Ruth is probably the most memorable player to have a successful career as both a pitcher and a hitter (and he was very good at both), but he played in an era that was entirely different from our own. For Ohtani, it will be much harder to resemble that kind of player over time, but he’s off to the kind of start that makes us wonder that maybe, just maybe, he can do it.

      After an unforgettable week and a half of baseball, Ohtani was tied for the league lead in home runs and slugging percentage. On top of that, in an utterly dominant pitching performance, he struck out 12 and took a perfect game into the 7th inning before giving up a weak single to the Oakland A's. There have only been 23 perfect games in the entire history of Major League Baseball.

      It’s a long season. He's going to encounter some rough patches, but I think we should enjoy his success while we can. One of my favorite baseball writers, Ben Lindbergh of the Ringer, put it wisely in a tweet:

      "...the 3-homer, 12-strikeout week when Shohei Ohtani showed that if anything, we somehow hadn't hyped him enough."

      Lindbergh's full article can be read here.

      Do you think Ohtani will keep it up? I sure hope he does, because it sure is fun to watch!

    • While the comparison to Babe Ruth is obvious, he wasn’t the last to excel as a two way player. As pointed out in this article by Mike Duncan, there were also black and Latino players who excelled on both sides of the plate in the Negro Leagues, even after Ruth switched to hitting full time. Players like Bullet Rogan, Martín Dihigo, Double-Duty Radcliffe and Leon Day don’t get much attention in this discussion, but their greatness can’t be overlooked.

      (Photo of Martín Dihigo)

    • I'm such a sucker for transcendent players, whatever the sport. I love most sports but I don't actually watch many because time. But if a Nadal/Federer rivalry heats up in tennis or Steph Curry lights up the NBA, I am so THERE!! Now you've done it: I didn't know about Othani, but now I have to watch him play a game. This might not end well.

    • I agree, transcendent players are one of the things that make sports so captivating. Every once in a while, someone comes along and breaks a sport, and it’s so fun to watch!

      Hopefully the Angels make it to the playoffs this year so Ohtani can perform on a national stage. And hopefully he’s still really good by then!

    • I was at the Oakland A's opening day, against the Angels, and saw Ohtani's first major league hit. He didn't look like the prototypical National League Pitcher, happier to get a bunt down and then put a jacket on in the unlikely event he got on base. He is tall and lanky, and ran like a hitter. He didn't homer against us, but showed he was capable of providing a good at bat.

      I was also there for his pitching debut, and he just dazzled. Seriously great stuff. He had a fastball above 99 miles an hour, coupled with a slider at 83 and changeup at 81. The speed difference proved unhittable for the A's, who saw 5 of the first 6 hitters go down on strikes. The only damage was done following two singles and a 3 run blast by Matt Chapman, who somehow got hold of an Ohtani fastball and deposited over the center field wall.

      We were leading then, but didn't do any more damage as Ohtani just carved up the order. Since then, he's managed to homer almost as frequently as teammate Mike Trout, and will be an offensive force. What's incredible to me isn't just that he's both hitting and pitching, but that he is exceptional at both. I have friends who've watched him in Japan and tell us this is nothing new. He is not exceeding our expectations. He is doing what we should have expected.

      I'm an A's fan for life, but I'll be checking in on those Angel boxscores.