Shohei's Spectacular Season, and Everything Else Going On in Baseball Right Now
OK, back at home — at least for a couple of days — and there’s a whole lot going on in baseball, so let’s go around the league and see what’s happening.
Shohei to achieve another first?
Shohei Ohtani the hitter now is done for the year after suffering an oblique injury; Shohei the pitcher tore his UCL last month, so he’s been done for a little while. The final numbers are staggering.
Shohei the hitter batted .304/.412/.654 and currently leads the league in triples, homers, walks, on-base, slugging, OPS, OPS+, total bases and intentional walks. The season goes on, and he might get caught in a couple of those categories, but he will surely lead the league in homers (he’s up nine) and runs created (he’s up 27) just as a starting point. He made himself into the league’s most dangerous hitter.
Shohei the pitcher went 10-5 with a π ERA, 167 strikeouts in 132 innings and his .183 batting average against is the lowest in all of baseball.
If you prefer more straightforward comparisons, Ohtani the hitter led the league in OPS, and Ohtani the pitcher is third in the league in lowest OPS against.
It is, all in all, a season unlike any in baseball history. But you knew that already. This is Shohei. Every one of his seasons, it seems, is unlike any in baseball history.
But here’s something else that Ohtani might do: He might (as several Brilliant Readers point out) become the first player in baseball history, best I can tell, who will win the MVP award while substantially missing the entire month of September. Ohtani the pitcher was shut down on Aug. 23 while Ohtani the hitter played only three games, going 1 for 8 with a double and six walks.
I don’t know for sure that Ohtani will win the MVP, but to call him an overwhelming favorite probably undersells the point — the latest odds I’ve seen, you have to bet $20,000 or $30,000 on Ohtani to win $100. I don’t know that you would get those odds on the sun coming up tomorrow. So, assuming Ohtani wins the MVP essentially without playing in September — is there anything even resembling a precedent?
The first person I thought of was Mike Trout in 2019. He played a little bit more in September than Ohtani has — he played in six games and hit a couple of home runs — but he was shut down on Sept. 7, and he still won the MVP award over Alex Bregman. In retrospect, that was kind of a weird vote when you consider that:
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