Angels two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani had a forgetful 2020 season to say the least.
Following a great two-way rookie campaign, Shohei Ohtani underwent Tommy John surgery which kept him off the mound all of 2019. He had hopes of returning to form in 2020’s shortened season but unfortunately, that did not go according to plan.
Ohtani took the mound just two times in 2020 and it was not pretty. In his first outing post-surgery, he threw 30 pitches allowing 3 hits, 3 walks, and 5 earned runs while not recording an out. Angels manager Joe Maddon was reluctant to give Ohtani another start in which he looked no different. He threw a perfect first, but then he walked 5 of the 7 batters he faced and couldn’t make it out of the second inning. He was then diagnosed with a grade-2 strain of the flexor pronator mass in his right elbow and did not pitch the rest of 2020.
Maybe the most disappointing part of Ohtani’s return to the mound was his downtick in velocity. After averaging 96.3 mph on his fastball in 2019 and reaching 100 mph multiple times, that number plummeted to 93.8 mph in his two starts in 2020.
The beauty of being a two-way player was that despite the elbow injury, Ohtani was able to continue to serve as a designated hitter for the Halos. In 44 games, he posted a .190/.291/.366 slash line. These numbers are down dramatically from the .286/.351/.532 line he averaged in his first two seasons as a DH. Albeit a sort of smaller sample size, Ohtani did not look good at the plate at all. It may have been because of nagging injuries or other reasons but the bottom line was that Ohtani’s offensive production was not up to par with what he showed in previous years.
Ohtani was still slightly above average in terms of hard hit rate in 2020 as he was in the 68th percentile, according to Baseball Savant. He sat near the bottom of the league in strikeout rate and whiff percentage in the 18th and 16th percentiles, respectively. Not great. In the end, Ohtani was worth a -0.4 WAR in a season he’d like to forget.
Role in 2021
Ohtani’s role in 2021 as a pitcher may very well depend on what the Angels do in free agency or with trades. Whether or not they bring in starting pitchers of the likes of Trevor Bauer, Corey Kluber, or Joe Musgrove may determine if the Halos need to depend on Ohtani to be a part of the rotation sometime throughout the year.
As for the offensive side of things, Ohtani hopes to return to the hitter he was in 2018 and 2019 in order to provide valuable protection to the Angels two superstars Anthony Rendon and Mike Trout in the middle of the order.
Most importantly, the Halos hope to see Ohtani stay healthy in 2021 so that he has the best chance to hopefully return to form.
It’s safe to say Shohei Ohtani did not live up to the expectations of Halos fans in 2020. He posted a 37.80 ERA in two starts and a .190 BA at the dish in a nightmare of a season. That being said Ohtani receives and F from us here at Halo Hangout. Here’s to hoping for a better 2021 from our two-way phenom.