Babe Ruth in Anaheim: Shohei Ohtani’s 2018 debut

When Shohei Ohtani took the mound for the first time in 2018, only days after starting as a designated hitter, he did something very few people have done before.

Shohei Ohtani made his Major League pitching debut on this date in 2018. By taking the mound, he became the first player since Babe Ruth in 1919 to start as a position player on Opening Day and then start a game on the mound within his team’s first ten games, according to Baseball Reference.

The Japanese phenom became the first modern-day two way player two seasons ago, winning the Rookie of the Year award after clubbing 22 home runs at the plate while pitching to a 3.31 ERA over ten starts on the mound.

Angels fans will always remember his first start as a pitcher on April 1, 2018. Facing the Oakland Athletics, only three days after his debut as a designated hitter, he earned his first Major League win, allowing three runs over six innings of work, striking out six while walking only one. The only hiccup coming in the second inning when he served up a three-run home run to Matt Chapman.

Instead of letting the early home run rattle him, the two-way star immediately settled down, retiring 14 of the next 15 batters. He threw 92 pitches in total, his fastball velocity still touching 98 MPH during his final inning of work.

During Ohtani’s first ten days in the majors, he batted .389 (7-18) with three home runs and 7 RBIs, taking a break from the batter’s box to win his first two starts on the mound, allowing only 4 hits over his first 13 innings as a starting pitcher.

By the end of the year, Ohtani had tied the Babe again, becoming the first player in 99 years to pitch at least 50 innings and hit at least 15 home runs in the same season.

Unfortunately, Ohtani’s rookie season came to a screeching halt when it was determined he would need Tommy John surgery in September. Having spent the entire 2019 season exclusively as a hitter, the two-way star is set to return to the mound in 2020, if a season is played.