When you think of the all-time greatest individual MLB seasons, what comes to mind?
On the pitching side you’d probably say Pedro Martinez’s otherworldly 2000 season or Bob Gibson’s history-defining 1968 showcase. For hitters it’s probably Barry Bonds’ record setting 2001 or any one of Babe Ruth’s seasons from the 1920s.
Seasons like these have an almost mythical reverence to them, while the men who played them have transformed into modern American folk heroes.
Shohei Ohtani is quite possibly having the best season in MLB history.
Anyone who even remotely cares about baseball probably already knows of Shohei Ohtani’s historic two-way exploits.
From being both the starting pitcher and starting DH in the All-Star game to being the runaway favorite for American League MVP, the man has quite literally done it all.
But just how good are Ohtani’s numbers this year? And when all’s said and done, where will his historic season rank among the all-time greats?
Before moving on, it should be noted that when using WAR in this debate, the numbers get a little finicky when talking about two-way players. This is due to the value they bring to the game being much different than that of a regular player.
In other words, WAR calculations aren’t designed to account for guys like Ohtani, due to them technically filling two roster spots for the price of one.
So while there are hundreds of individual seasons where players put up higher WAR totals than Ohtani projects to have, that doesn’t necessarily mean that what those players did was better or more impressive than what Shohei is doing right now.