LA Angels: Shohei Ohtani shares history with Babe Ruth in latest MLB record

Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
Los Angeles Angels
Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

Another day, another spot for Shohei Ohtani in MLB’s history books. That seems to be the norm these days and the two-way phenom has done it again. Ahead of his third outing of the season on Monday against the Rangers, Ohtani becomes the first player to start a game while leading the majors in home runs since Babe Ruth on June 13, 1921.

Ohtani launched his seventh homer of the season on Sunday, a huge go-ahead blast to help end the Angels’ four-game losing streak in a 4-2 win against the Astros.

When Ruth started that game during the 1921 season, he led the majors with 19 home runs. It was the only start of the regular season for Ruth who allowed four runs on five hits while walking seven and striking out one. The Great Bambino slashed .378/.512/.846 with 59 home runs and 168 RBI in 693 plate appearances in that same season. He was 26-years old, the same age as Ohtani this season.

Angels: Shohei Ohtani is living up to his Babe Ruth hype as a two-way superstar

It’ll be difficult for Ohtani to match that line of offensive production, but he’s still off to a great start nonetheless. In 81 plate appearances, Ohtani is slashing .286/.321/.662 with seven home runs and 16 RBI.

In two starts this season, Ohtani has allowed one earned run on three hits while walking 11 and striking out 14 over 8.1 innings pitched. That equates to a 1.04 ERA, 1.615 WHIP, and 16.2 strikeouts per nine innings ratio. What stands out is Ohtani’s high walk rate (11.4 BB/9).

More from LA Angels History

First let me start by saying what Ohtani is doing right now is truly remarkable. This is a pitcher coming off Tommy John surgery and an elbow injury which kept him off the mound for all of two starts in 2020. He’s pitched in just four games combined since his rookie year in 2018, the most important thing for him right now is to get comfortable being back on a big-league mound without overdoing it.

The more starts he gets, the more comfort he’ll have, and then we’ll see his control where it needs to be. The key for manager Joe Maddon and the Angels is to manage Ohtani’s usage in the proper way to keep him in the lineup and on the mound. The team has implemented a ‘no limits’ approach, meaning they will not make any predetermined assumptions and let Ohtani prepare as he usually does.

The only issues so far have been a blister  which kept him off the mound for a week, but that’s a lot better than any structural type of damage. He still remained in the lineup as the team’s designated hitter and produced at a high level.

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So far so good for Ohtani. If he keeps up this pace, both offensively and on the mound, I couldn’t imagine another player being named AL MVP.

Then again, his teammate Mike Trout will give him a run for his money.