The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim welcomed back Shohei Ohtani the Pitcher on Sept. 4 following a bout with wrist soreness after an HBP, but Shohei Ohtani the Slugger still has some significant work to do down the stretch.
In fact, he’s chasing legends.
The numbers speak for themselves in encapsulating Ohtani’s ridiculous run of form — but they also, uh, don’t, considering digits on a page and WAR totals that’ll drop your jaw don’t necessarily indicate at first blush that he’s been doing this on both sides of the ball.
Perhaps a visual comparison might help? OK, here we go. Imagine David Ortiz. Big Papi. The bat-gripping swagger. The knees bent, ready to uncoil and send yet another baseball deep into the Boston night.
OK, imagine that guy, then improve his power just a bit. Move the slider up. Now make him 9-1 on the mound with a 100 MPH fastball and 135 strikeouts in 112 innings.
Yes, as the remarkable Ohtani returns to the mound in an attempt to lay waste to the league’s elite for the stretch run, he’s also eyeing a powerful record currently owned by Ortiz himself: most home runs in a single season from the DH slot.
Will Angels star Shohei Ohtani break David Ortiz’s DH home run record?
In reality, though the record is within reach, the mountain is just a little bit harder to climb than it would appear.
Before we even dive into Ohtani’s recent struggles — which can be attributed to either fatigue or that errant baseball that struck his wrist — he’s already two behind his own pace, considering only 41 of his 43 home runs on the season have come from the DH position. Therefore, he’ll have to drill at least 50 on the year to surpass Ortiz’s 47 and carve out his own slugging niche. Doable? Sure. But more difficult than simply reaching 48.
Plus, there’s the slight stretch-run regression we must account for. Over the last 28 days, Ohtani is hitting just .202 with six homers and 11 RBI. The last 14 days? .114 with a trio of homers. If this slump continues, Ortiz can continue applauding himself from the FOX postgame desk.
But if Ohtani can regain his strength and approximate even 65% of what he was bringing to the diamond on a nightly basis during the season’s first half, we might see the quintessential DH’s record fall, recaptured by a starting pitcher.
Baseball’s a funny game, and we may be peaking right now in terms of pure, unexpected insanity.
Ohtani has a chance to reach a remarkable mark over these next few weeks, and we’ll be eyeing his progress regularly as he provides must-watch moments to a franchise stuck in neutral.
"LA Angels: 3 free agents that the Halos should keep"