The 2022 projections predict another MVP season for Shohei Ohtani

Los Angeles Angels v Seattle Mariners
Los Angeles Angels v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages
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Shohei Ohtani
Los Angeles Angels v Seattle Mariners / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

In 2021, Shohei Ohtani was an absolute monster at the plate for the LA Angels. At first thought, it would be reasonable to expect some level of regression following such an incredible season, and yet the projections show otherwise.

Shohei Ohtani is projected to have another award-worthy season at the plate.

  • ZiPS: 586 PA, .261/.363/.563, 147 OPS+, 25 2B, 38 HR, 101 RBI, 79 BB, 171 K, 21 SB, 3.9 zWAR
  • Steamer: 657 PA, .258/.363/.534, 137 wRC+, 25 2B, 39 HR, 99 RBI, 89 BB, 182 K, 24 SB, 3.5 fWAR
  • 2021 Stats: 639 PA, .257/.372/.592, 158 OPS+, 152 wRC+, 26 2B, 46 HR, 100 RBI, 96 BB, 189 K, 26 SB, 5.1 fWAR

If this doesn’t get you excited, I don’t know what will.

What stands out the most here is just how similar the projections for Shohei Ohtani are to his actual numbers from last year. Remember, these are just supposed to be a baseline for what to expect from Ohtani in 2022, but somehow, they’re predicting almost identical numbers to his MVP-winning season.

Regarding any potential areas of concern, like the projected drops in walk rate, on-base percentage and slugging percentage, they are all small enough that they shouldn’t have too great an effect on his actual production. Even a slight decrease in overall power isn’t worrying enough towards Ohtani’s long-term outlook as a hitter.

As for how this stacks up to the rest of the American League DH’s, Ohtani’s 3.9 zWAR and 3.5 fWAR from Steamer are both the second best in the league behind only Yordan Alvarez’s totals (4.9 zWAR, 3.9 fWAR). For context, Alvarez was second to Ohtani last year in fWAR among all DH's.

Looking at some other notable stats, Ohtani is top 10 in the majors in both projections for home runs, OPS and walks, while also making the top 10 in stolen bases in Steamer, though, not in ZiPS.

Another important thing to point out is that these projections rely heavily on past performance. This is significant because Ohtani’s performance at the plate heavily regressed over the final months of the 2021 season due to the Angels giving him virtually no lineup protection and thus seeing very few pitches to hit.

This means that if Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon can stay healthy all season, pitchers will actually have to, well, pitch to Ohtani rather than around him.

All of this is to say that these projections could be even more conservative than at first glance, and that Ohtani still hasn’t reached his full potential at the plate. Consider every opposing pitcher in baseball warned.