Shohei Ohtani is very good at baseball, perhaps the best ever. You probably already knew that. What you might not know, at least from a statistical standpoint, is just how much better he is than his peers. If you’re even somewhat interested in baseball, and especially if you live on the west coast, you should really make a point to tune into some of Ohtani’s upcoming starts. This is the modern version of Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders in terms of mythical, you’d-believe-any-story-about-them-is-true type of guys. And, I’m going to let you in on a little secret, Ohtani is miles and miles better than those guys ever were.
In the eternal struggle to make baseball players more than just baseball famous, Ohtani has also made waves recently. His completely unprecedented takeover of the World Baseball Classic put him on millions of television screens across the world, and he will soon make his third trip to the All-Star Game after leading the American League in votes during Phase 1 of online fan voting. Ohtani has even leveled up in other ways. Most recently, he got a shoutout in some Bad Bunny lyrics. Before the season, he signed a lucrative apparel deal with New Balance. While sporting his new kicks on the diamond this season, all he’s done is constantly remind us that he’s a true baseball unicorn.
Forget best baseball player ever. This might be one of the best athletes we’ve ever seen, period. Without getting too in the weeds here, let’s take a look at some numbers—both real and hypothetical—that demonstrate how absurdly talented Ohtani is.
31: Ohtani’s 31 home runs this season puts him atop the MLB leaderboard. It also makes 60 homers a very real possibility, something that only six other people have ever accomplished. Like with every Ohtani fun fact, it should be pointed out that nobody else on that list was also a pitcher. When Babe Ruth socked 60 dingers in 1927—a record that would stand for 34 years—he had already given up pitching to focus solely on hitting.
15: A whopping 15 of those long balls came in June, setting an Angels’ franchise record for most home runs in a single month.
5: There are five other traditional offensive categories where Ohtani is the league leader: runs batted in, triples, total bases, slugging percentage, and on-base plus slugging percentage. In other words, nobody is rounding the bases more frequently (sort of the whole point of baseball), damaging the ball more often (the layman’s term for slugging percentage), or showcasing the ability to both get on base (he draws quite a lot of walks because opposing pitchers are afraid of him) and cremate the ball when he does get good pitches to hit (on-base plus slugging, or OPS, is the statistical distillation of that last part.)
94.0: While slugging percentage measures the damage being done to the ball in terms of results (double, triple, home run, etc.) there is also fancy equipment now that measures just how hard a player is actually hitting the ball. When Ohtani makes contact, the ball leaves his bat at an average of 94.0 miles per hour. That’s currently sixth in the league, but first among left-handed hitters in the American League. Cherry picking or not, that is still