While the LA Angels have been struggling on the field recently, there is still some reason to smile for the fans.
On Thursday, prior to the LA Angels 11-4 loss at the hands of the Texas Rangers, Shohei Ohtani spoke to the media for the first time in two weeks, and reignited the hope in Anaheim.
“Right now my swing feels great,” Ohtani said through his interpreter, “The power felt actually even a little better than last year. I think in that sense everything is going really well.”
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So Ohtani, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, feels there is even more power than last year. I mean, are you kidding me?
Last year Ohtani slashed .285/.361/.564 in 104 games as a hitter. However, he ended the season on an absolute tear once it was announced he’d need TJ after the season ended.
He hit .320/.395/.653 over the final 47 games with 13 home runs. And that was with a torn ligament in his right arm. What that stretch showed us is that when Ohtani is focusing solely on hitting, he is truly special at the plate.
Now, with Ohtani missing all of April (despite saying he feels he could be hitting by the end of the month), it’s a given to say he’ll miss the first 31 games of the season. Now let’s say over the course of the season due to rehabbing his arm, rest, etc., Ohtani missed another 11 games to make it so he spends 120 games as the Angels’ designated hitter in 2019.
If we take his stats from that 47 games stretch in 2018, it could project a truly remarkable season for Ohtani. In those projections, he would have 120 hits, 20 doubles, 3 triples, and 33 home runs. That would be an extremely impressive season from the reigning Rookie of the Year, and would provide the exact kind of boost this Angels’ offense needs right now. Then you take into account the 92 RBI’s, 43 walks, and 20 stolen bases he’d be projected and things begin to get really, really interested.
When Ohtani comes back, this offense immediately sees a boost. They’ll have a true slugger hitting behind Mike Trout and Kole Calhoun, the only two players consistently hitting the ball well, and gives the Angels a dominant top of the lineup. And whenever Justin Upton returns, this offense could find itself back on track.
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