I just got a calendar reminder that I set a little more than a year ago, to make fun of my friend Daniel. “There’s no way a major league team will let Shohei Ohtani hit,” he swore to me last spring. “Zero chance. Way too risky.”
At the time, that was a fairly common, if not quite universal, buy nfl jerseys cheap sentiment. It was too risky. Ohtani was a potentially special pitcher, and you don’t take chances with special pitchers. Just a year later, though, a crazy, risky suggestion would be the opposite: stopping the two-way experiment.
Hardly anything has ever worked as well as the Ohtani experiment has so far. Pitching in the Los Angeles Angels’ six-man starting rotation, Ohtani has made seven starts and the Angels are 6-1 in those games; playing three or four days a week as the club’s DH, he has batted 90 times and outhit everybody on the team except Mike Trout. Short stretches of baseball are inherently inconclusive, but we can now say Ohtani is certainly one of the 50 best pitchers in the world, probably one of the 30 best, plausibly one of the 10 best, and there’s an outside chance, a glimmer of hope, a faint possibility he’s actually the best pitcher in the world and we’re just waiting to find that out. And we can almost say the same about him as a hitter.
When something’s working this well, it’s natural to say it should be left alone — and this is working. But working well doesn’t rule out the possibility that something could be working better, and simply accepting the inevitability of the situation as it exists — because change is way too risky — is how you get made fun of a year later. Daniel.
So, with a solemn promise that this article is not a troll, and that as I write this paragraph I have no idea what the answer will be, and that in fact I’m ultimately going to leave it to you to decide, let’s just ask the question: Is this really the best way to use Shohei Ohtani?
Caveats: We don’t know what the Angels promised Ohtani when they were recruiting him,where to buy nfl jerseys cheap and if his decision to sign in Anaheim was predicated on this usage plan, then this is a moot point. Further, Ohtani and the Angels know or intuit millions more details about his comfort level, his energy levels, his elbow, the roster as a whole. For us, this is a thought experiment. For them, it’s an extremely self-interested decision and much more complicated than adding up WARs.