Is Shohei Ohtani the best pitcher in baseball?
We know what makes Los Angeles Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani stand out from the rest. His ability to hit and pitch at a superstar level makes him the consensus best player in the game, and one of the best players if not the best player we've ever seen.
Thankfully we don't have to do this, but let's imagine Ohtani could only pitch. We know he'd be even better than he is now if he only focused on that one thing (somehow), but let's just forget the hitting for a second.
What Shohei Ohtani is doing on the mound is extraordinary and historic. The question has to be asked.
Is LA Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani the best pitcher in the game?
We all know what makes Ohtani the legend he is is the fact that he can hit and pitch at such an elite level, but let's just focus on the pitching for now. What he's doing on the mound is truly extraordinary.
Last night, Ohtani delivered seven shutout innings allowing two hits while walking two and striking out 11 including the last six he's faced. He did so on three-days rest. I don't care that it was against the Royals, that is extraordinary.
This season, Ohtani has without a doubt been the best pitcher in the game. He leads the league with a 0.64 ERA. He leads the league with 38 strikeouts. He's just one out shy of leading the league in innings pitched. Had his start in Boston not been cut short, Ohtani would be the triple crown leader in the AL through his first five starts.
Ohtani is doing this while most of his starts haven't been in the best conditions. He pitched in brutal weather in Seattle and especially in Boston. That's contributed to his 15 walks. However, do the walks even matter when you've allowed eight hits in 28 innings pitched? Yes, Ohtani is allowing 2.6 hits per nine through his first five starts. He hasn't allowed more than three hits in a start, and he only did that once. He has not allowed a single home run and hasn't given one up since August of last season.
When discussing the best pitchers in the game, we'll need more than just a five-game sample. Since 2021, Ohtani has a 2.53 ERA. Since 2022, 1.84. This season, 0.64. He struck out 10.8/9 in 2021, and led the league with 11.9 K/9 last season. Ohtani was one of the five or so best pitchers on the planet last season. He might've finished fourth in the Cy Young voting but should've finished higher with the season he had.
Ohtani has allowed three runs or fewer in each of his last 17 starts, allowing three earned runs just once in that span. He's allowed one run or fewer in each of his last 17 starts. He's allowed three hits or fewer in each of his last nine starts. This run he's on is hard to fathom.
The eye test suggests he's the best just looking at his stuff. The stats suggest he's the best based on how dominant he's been the last couple of years.
Right now, there really isn't a more dominant pitcher than Shohei. He's allowing virtually no hits while striking out the world. His starts feel like an automatic win. The transformation from his debut season with the Angels to now is truly extraordinary.