May
27
2021

Is Shohei Ohtani A Legitimate Candidate For MVP?

Shohei Ohtani. That’s it. That’s all you need to remember. Because when it comes down to it, health allowing, the 26-year-old two-way NPB turned MLB superstar could go down as one of the most memorable names in not just the sport but the world. He has accomplished more feats that haven’t been done for 50+ years than you can count on just one hand.

A lot of those came in his 2018 rookie year of the MLB. A lot MORE of those have happened in this early renaissance year. All while playing in the somehow bigger shadow of legend in progress Mike Trout. I mean seriously? How is this team not consistently missing the playoffs?! Let’s take a good look at the RHP/LDH/RF/superhero of the MLB and his 2021 MVP bid.

Did you miss that?

Miss what? If you blinked, then probably because Shohei Ohtani hit another home run this time 117 mph off the bat just two nights ago! It was his 15th bomb of the year, keeping him firmly entrenched in the homerun leader race. He and Ronald Acuna Jr are tied, while only two others are ahead of them. His 38 runs batted in tied him for sixth in the MLB. He’s also tied for eighth in runs scored with 34, just outside the top 20 in steals, and just outside the top 50 in batting average.

He also somehow has three triples already this season, putting him in a deep tie for fourth in that category too. Overall though, on 174 plate appearances, he’s got 34 runs on 47 hits, 11 doubles, three triples, 15 home runs, 38 RBIs, while possessing a .270 batting average. His OBP is .330, and even though he has 57 strikeouts to just 13 walks, and has been caught stealing a third of the time, he ranks in the top five in slug % and top 15 in OPS.

Though impressive, that wouldn’t make him a sure-fire candidate for AL MVP right? With the likes of Vlad Guerrero Jr, Rafael Devers, and others tearing the baseball off the bat, it would seem as though Ohtani would be on the cusp of voter’s minds. Except that is not all.

Shohei Ohtani doesn’t come from where we do

He comes from somewhere else. No, I don’t mean Japan. I’m talking about outer space, or maybe it was a laboratory. He could even be a time traveler from the future or even the distant past. Why do I say this? Because he pitches too! Not from time to time, not as a reliever either. He legitimately has 100mph fastballs, diving low 90s splitters, with sliders, cutters, and curveballs mixed in.

Through his first six starts this year, he sports a sparkling 2.37 ERA with 45Ks through 30.1 IP. He struggles a bit with walks, and his WHIP is 1.25. His most impressive start was in Houston against division rivals the Astros, a high octane offense that has shown little signs of slowing down even with their consistent visits to the MLB playoffs. He went seven innings on May 11th, allowing just one earned run on four hits and one walk. Not only was the one four-ball count his least on the year, but he hit a season-high mark, striking out 10 batters as well. In 2021, his batting avg against is .154% which is well below league average.

He’s been dominant on both sides of the field and in these games pitching, he has shown a willingness to now play the field, showing up in right field for 4.1 innings so far this year. He has racked up a book worth of accolades this season. He hit his 60th career home run, which put him in a fine territory with just four other players who have that many home runs while also owning 100 pitching strikeouts. He was the first player to lead the major leagues in home runs while making a pitching start (which has not been done since 1921), and he did this THREE times already this year! He also owns the most unhittable pitch currently within the minimum 30 PA.

With an opponent BA of .028, his splitter has been vicious to opposing batters. When he struck out the ten Astros, he became just the second player ever to strike out ten in a game with also having ten homers on the year. He was the only other player two achieve that feat, in 2018 then.

When he took over in right field during that Astros game, he made himself the third-ever player to strike out ten and then play another fielding position in the game. He batted leadoff this year as well, on the same day that he started a game, making him the first player since 1916 to pull that off as well. He hit a 115 mph home run in an epic Sunday night game while reaching 100 mph on his fastball thrown, making him the only player ever recorded to reach 100 mph hitting and batting.

Overall

All of this considered, he has struggled with injuries in his short MLB career so far. That being said, is he in consideration for AL MVP this season? Absolutely. Is he the front runner for that spot? Again, I see no better argument.

He’s been one of the best hitters while still working as one of his team’s best pitchers, if not one of the best in the sport. His injuries and the carefulness of the coaching staff because of this do leave him just outside of the arguments that he could make for a run at any pitching accolade, but I think for the sport’s sake, we will happily watch him hit and pitch just as often as he can. There hasn’t been a player like him in well, just about 100 years. No one knows the next time we will see a player with such athletic ability like Ohtani, so while you can, stop, and take in some good old fashion Shotime.