With three days of home runs in a row followed by seven shutout innings, the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani’s past week was full of historical significance and promise.
Just two weeks after Ohtani was asked whether he deserved to be in the majors, he has blown everyone away with his historic feats. Now, the Angel’s pitcher can perhaps feel what it was like for Fernando Valenzuela in April 1981 with his five straight game wins, four of them being shutouts. Or maybe even Babe Ruth himself who on May 6, 1918, when he started as pitcher for the Red Sox.
Lots of Work and Training got Ohtani Where He is Today
Until Ohtani was at spring training for the Angels, there was little to no hype about his skills. He was a horrible hitter, oh-for-the-spring with extra-base hits, and he struggled on the mound as well. However one could see the impact his high 90s fastball made.
During spring training, Ohtani was late on pitches. He was hitting with a high leg kick as well as closed front foot and hip. Eric Hinske, the Angels hitting coach knew his current swing would not go over well in the big league where there is greater velocity than found in Japan as well as more aggressive inside pitches.
And Ohtani learned. He can now fire his hips before his hands come through. He also has more speed and freedom in his movements. The speed and finesse that these new techniques were picked up by Ohtani is a testament to his athletic talent, diligence, and intellect.
There is no one like Ohtani on the mound, especially not with a split as good as his. While the splitter is common in Japan, it’s a rare commodity here in the majors. Only a half dozen starting pitchers can throw the pitch, and Ohtani is one of them. If hitters don’t see it enough, they can’t learn very well how to hit it.
Nobody utilizes the move as often as Ohtani or his viciousness with his drop. With only two games under his belt, his splitter is on par with Clayton Kershaw’s curveball and Justin Verlander’s fastball. It’s insane to think that the world’s best hitters can hit his splitters only 30 percent of the time.
It is unknown how long his streak will last, as Ruth only kept up his streak for another year. All we can do now is look on with wonder and amazement.