Oh, Hey Shohei! Japanese superstar makes MLB debut!
By Ryan Falla
The anticipation over young Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani has been bubbling fiercely over the entirety of the off-season. After seeing a full Spring Training the excitement only grew in fervor. With Ohtani making a successful MLB debut all of that excitement surrounding him continues to escalate.
Shohei Ohtani has already come a long way since his first Spring Training appearance at that plate as an LA Angel.
In that Spring hitting debut Ohtani drew two walks and smacked an RBI single, an all around successfull outing. We’re only a month removed from that outing, and the Ohtani that made his MLB debut against the A’s is already far improved.
Shohei Ohtani debuted against the Oakland Athletics as a DH, and in that role he came away with a hit and a K in five AB’s. He’s already taking great measures to adjust his game to the MLB, working with Angels coaching staff to eliminate the “slack” within his hitting approach. Ohtani’s biggest issue during Spring Training was the dead weight in his hitting motions which kept him perpetually off-timing against opposing pitchers.
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One of Ohtani’s biggest issues with his hitting motions was his his high leg kick; a motion in which he loaded up his swing on his front leg in preparation for the incoming pitch. In tandem with this motion was a batting stance in which he pulled his body away from the strike zone and left the inside of the plate vulnerable, which makes it no surprise that he struggled heavily on the inside pitch.
Opening Day against the A’s? You saw a completely different Ohtani; no longer was he taking his aggressive stride, but a collected one. His front foot never left the ground, now replaced with a simplified toe-tap which works in timing with pitchers strides more than his anticipation of the ball.
It should also be noted that, on Ohtani’s first two AB’s, the ball came off the bat at velocities of 95 MPH and102 MPH. The simplified batting approach he now takes is keeping his power intact, so with time we will be seeing him putting together big hits off his bat.
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All of these improvements came together to bring Ohtani his first of many MLB hits, one which will be forever marked in Angels history by the Opening Day brand.
In addition to his new-found approach was an exciting view of his speed on the basepaths. On his 4th inning groundout Ohtani hit a speed of 29 ft. per second; given that the Major League average is 27 ft. per second it’s clear Ohtani has all the tools necessary to succeed at a plus.
Next: Kole Calhoun off to a good start
Ohtani will be making his first MLB start as a start pitcher this Sunday, 4/1/18; look for him to continue the steps towards success against the A’s, this time from the mound.