Does Shohei Ohtani have a shot at winning the AL Cy Young Award?

Chicago White Sox v Los Angeles Angels; Shohei Ohtani
Chicago White Sox v Los Angeles Angels; Shohei Ohtani / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages
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With all of the innings stuff out of the way, let’s take a look at just how elite Shohei Ohtani has been for the LA Angels through the first three months of the season.

Shohei Ohtani is having a career year on the mound for the LA Angels in 2022.

As of July 1, Shohei Ohtani is seventh in the AL in fWAR (2.3) and fifth in strikeouts (101) despite having upwards of 20 less innings pitched than some of his contemporaries.

In terms of rate stats, Shohei dominates the leaderboards in both traditional and advanced metrics.

On the traditional side, among all AL starters with at least 70 IP, his 2.68 ERA is the ninth best in the league, with his 2.53 FIP slotting in at third and his 1.01 WHIP being good for sixth place. Likewise, his .209 batting average against also cracks the top 10 at ninth overall, while his 12.28 K/9 and 2.07 BB/9 earn him second place and ninth place, respectively.

For as amazing as these numbers look, Ohtani’s advanced statistics are somehow even better, suggesting that he may actually continue improving as we get deeper into the season. Right now he’s sixth in the league in xERA (2.83), second in xFIP (2.52) and second in SIERA (2.54).

A big reason why these numbers are so low is that Shohei has done a masterful job this season in inducing weak contact and limiting hard contact, currently leading the AL with a 21.5% soft contact rate and sitting in sixth in hard contact rate at 26.0%.

Also, in case anyone somehow forgot, Ohtani is doing all of this while being a full-time DH. He's not on the mound fully rested like everyone else is, and yet he is still just as dominant. Rob Friedman, AKA the Pitching Ninja, even made the claim that if Shohei just focused solely on pitching, he would probably win multiple Cy Youngs easy.

Taking this all together, Ohtani is not just having the best season of his career as a pitcher, he’s in the midst of one of the greatest seasons ever by an Angels pitcher. But is that enough to win the Cy Young?