March 22, 2021

Ohtani Batting .636, Crushing 460-Foot Home Runs, And Throwing 100+ MPH Fastballs

Shohei Ohtani is healthy and seems poised to have an incredible, and potentially unprecedented, season.

On Sunday, he was the Angels' leadoff hitter and reached base in all three plate appearances (two hits and one walk). He's batting .636 (14-for-22) this spring and he leads the team in home runs (4), hits (14), and runs scored (10), and is tied for second in RBI (7). Ohtani, who will turn 27 this summer, also pitched four innings, allowing only two hits and striking out five Padres with a fastball clocked at 102 mph.

"I would love to do this during the season. If I could get run support for myself, that will give me extra confidence on the mound to be more aggressive."

Because throwing gas at 102 is not aggressive enough, apparently.

A starting pitcher that also bats leadoff is about as rare as a team that comes from 0-3 to win a best-of-seven postseason series.

The last time a major league player batted leadoff and pitched more than one inning was 119 years ago, when Jim Jones of the New York Giants went 0-for-4 and allowed six runs, losing a six-inning complete game to the Cardinals.

But that game seems like a bit of a lark, as it occurred in the second game of a doubleheader at the end of the season (September 30, 1901) and Jones was an outfielder in 88 of his 90 career games. (In his initial pitching foray, he gave up 22 runs in six innings.)

More recently, on May 17, 2009, a lineup card mistake forced Rays pitcher Andy Sonnanstine to bat third.

Earlier this month (March 3), Ohtani crushed a 468-foot home run over a high wall in dead center. He did it again two weeks later, but that dong went only 464 feet (off last year's Cy Young Award winner). Both of those travelled farther than his longest regular season home run.

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