[Sports Illustrated] Shohei Ohtani (29, Los Angeles Angels), fully recovered from elbow surgery, set out to accomplish the seemingly impossible feat of hitting and pitching in 2021, and he proved that it is possible in modern baseball.
However, 2021 was a little more focused on the hitters. Starting pitching was up and down. In 23 games in 2021, Ohtani went 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 130⅓ innings pitched. It was a good performance, but not a full-time one.메이저놀이터
Last year, however, his performance on the mound began to balance out his performance at the plate. I started 28 games last year and pitched 166 innings, going 15-9 with a 2.33 ERA. In those 166 innings, he struck out 219 batters. He finished fourth in the Cy Young Award voting.
This year, the pitcher’s performance tends to stand out more than the hitter’s. As of Aug. 23, Ohtani has pitched 59 innings in 10 games with a 5-1 record and a 3.05 ERA. In those 59 innings, he has struck out a whopping 80 batters.
Ohtani thrives on a fastball that sits in the low-90s, plus a sweeper that has been making waves in the majors this season. He also throws another changeup, so hitting against him can be a challenge.
In fact, Ohtani’s BABIP has been dropping as the season progresses. In 2021, Ohtani’s BABIP was .207. That was also a very good number. Last year, despite pitching more innings, his FIP dropped to 0.203. This year, it’s just 0.142. In 59 innings, he’s walked just 28 batters. That’s not a lot of strikeouts, but it’s one of the reasons why his WHIP has remained in the low-zero range (0.90).
Pedro Martinez, the legendary pitcher who faced just 128 hits in 217 innings in 2000.
Justin Verlander, who is the last pitcher to have 200+ innings and 137 or fewer hits.
Ohtani’s strikeout rate is the best in the league. There are only six players in the league with a BABIP in the 1s, including Ohtani, Tyler Wells (Baltimore, 0.168), and Spencer Strider (Atlanta, 0.183), and the gap between Ohtani and Wells is quite large. At this rate, Ohtani will lead the league in ERA, at least for the foreseeable future.
This is the fastest pace in major league history. Assuming Ohtani finishes the season at his current pace, he’ll pitch somewhere between 205 and 207 innings. There’s a chance he’ll have to make adjustments along the way, but that’s the math, and he’s projected to finish the season in the 102-105 strikeout range.
There are only five pitchers in major league history who have thrown more than 200 innings and walked 137 or fewer batters. The best was Max Scherzer with Washington in 2017, when he threw 200⅔ innings and allowed just 126 hits. Pedro Martinez in 2000 gave up 128 hits in 217 innings, Carl Lundgren in 1907 gave up 130 in 207 innings, Nolan Ryan in 1990 gave up 137 in 204 innings, and Justin Verlander in 2019 gave up 137 hits in 223 innings.
More innings naturally leads to more hits, but Ohtani has a lower FIP than those five players. In 2017, Scherzer had a 0.178 BABIP, and in 2000, Pedro Martinez had a 0.167 BABIP. In 2019, Verlander’s was .172.
Of course, there will be ups and downs over the course of the season, and FIPs can go up and down. But Ohtani’s current velocity is certainly impressive. Whether or not he can keep it up through the end of the season will be one of the things to watch this year, and if he can, he could make a real run at the Cy Young.