When Shohei Ohtani was posted by his Japanese club last winter, no one gave the LA Angels a chance to sign him. Now, one year after his decision was made public, Ohtani is one of the brightest young stars in any sport, and it was an absolute roller coaster ride.
“Hello, my name is Shohei Ohtani.”
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Those were Ohtani’s first words at his introductory press conference in front of Angels stadium. With the language barrier, not much was known about the Angels’ newest star at that time. However, as the season went on, Ohtani’s personality broke down that barrier, as his teammates and him did share one common language: baseball.
And man, does Shohei Ohtani speak it well.
This article is not about the historical rookie season of Ohtani. A season that included a .285 batting average, 22 home runs, and 61 RBI’s while also adding in a 3.31 ERA 63 strikeouts in 51.2 innings pitched. And of course, he went on to win the American League Rookie of the Year Award, the first Halo since Mike Trout.
When Ohtani announced he had chosen the Angels, my jaw, like many other Halo fans I assume, dropped. Sure, I had the dream of it and had written the articles about why it’d be a great fit. However, only the smallest part of my brain actually believed he’d choose Anaheim as his new home.
Ohtani choosing the Angels was the closest thing to winning the lottery I’ve ever had. I did not text my family to let them know, I called them to hear their reactions and to see whether they’d believe me or not. And to my friends who cheer for the other LA team…I finally had something to brag about.
One year ago, Shohei Ohtani changed the course of the Angels’ franchise. One player, or more so two players morphed into one, changed the narrative completely. No longer are the Angels without a star should Mike Trout leave in 2020. Now, they have two of the best hitters in baseball in Trout and Ohtani.
Before you argue against me on that one, Ohtani ranked eighth in the MLB in wRC+ (the best and most accurate offensive stat in baseball). That puts him ahead of hitters such as Aaron Judge, Jose Altuve, Bryce Harper, and Paul Goldschmidt. Ohtani is one of the best in the game, and his stats back it up.
Oh…and did I mention he pitches?