Starting with the WBC championship, he became the first player in Major League Baseball history to hit double-digit home runs for two consecutive years. And "right elbow surgery" was a turbulent year like a roller coaster. Ohtani ended that historic season with the title of "Home Run King."

We look back on that "light and shadow".
(U.S. Directorate, Reporter Shuta Yamamoto)

table of contents

  • WBC "World No. 1 and tournament MVP" best start

  • "I want to win the championship as a team" evolved "dual-wielding"

  • But the right elbow ...

  • "Beyond Babe Ruth"

Open Table of Contents

table of contents

table of contents

  • WBC "World No. 1 and tournament MVP" best start

  • "I want to win the championship as a team" evolved "dual-wielding"

  • But the right elbow ...

  • "Beyond Babe Ruth"

【Click here for details】Shohei Ohtani wins home run king in the big leagues, first Japan player to achieve this feat

WBC "World No. 1 and tournament MVP" best start

WBC = World Baseball Classic in March.

WBC pitcher (March)

Ohtani, who led the national team Japan pitching, started the year in the best possible way, being the world champion and tournament MVP.

The day before the final against the United States, I called Angels general manager Minassian to discuss the relief pitch firsthand.

After convincing the Opening Day pitcher that it would not affect the season he had been offered in, the scene where he struck out Trout in the final to clinch the championship became a famous scene in baseball history.

WBC World No. 3 and MVP (March)

"I want to win the championship as a team" evolved "dual-wielding"

Three days after winning the WBC title, he pitched in a practice match at the camp grounds, and nine days after winning the championship, he took the mound for the opening match as promised when we talked to him firsthand.

To the mound for the season opener (March)

When he returned to the Angels after the WBC, he said with a twinkle in his eye, "I really want to win the championship with this team," which showed his strong determination to make it to the playoffs after a "tingling September."

In the regular season, he was a lively development of the two-way style of pitching that he showed last year.

As a pitcher, he kept opponents at bay with a slider "sweeper" that bends wide sideways immediately after the start of the season, and his ERA is an astonishing 5.0 after the first five pitches.

After that, when he was hit by sweepers more often, he showed off a cut ball with a unique trajectory that falls vertically, making us feel that he has more drawers as a pitcher.

The starting rotation, which was mainly six days in the middle last season, was completed in the first five days of the season, and the number of pitches in the first half of the season was 6 and one-third innings, far exceeding the previous record of 5 innings last season, and exceeded the 87 mark for the first time.

In batting, he brilliantly realized the goal of "balancing batting average and home runs" that he talked about at the end of last season, and achieved the home run king and the first season batting average of 3%.

The batting average against fastballs such as straight and two-seam speaks for itself.

[Batting average against fastballs]
last season ▽.377 this season

He steadily improved and reliably caught fastballs, which accounted for about half of all pitches thrown by opposing pitchers.

Major League Baseball's rule changes that prohibit extreme defensive shifts also contributed to the increase in the number of hits through shifts for Ohtani, who has a fast hitting speed.

In June and July, he hit home runs at an astonishing pace and won the MVP of the month award for the second month in a row.

On July 6, he earned his first shutout victory in a doubleheader against the Tigers, allowing just one hit in Game 7, and in Game 2, which began 7 minutes later, he hit a home run in two consecutive at-bats as the designated hitter.

Home run after first shutout in doubleheader (July 7)

At this point, the team, which was 1.5 games behind in the playoff spot, showed positive reinforcements in the summer trade market, and Ohtani vowed to do even more, saying, "It will be motivated and morale will be higher."

But the right elbow ...

However, after this match, Ohtani's strong body began to change.

He was replaced more often in the middle of the game due to muscle spasms, or so-called "stiff conditions," and after the game on August 4, when he walked off the mound in the fourth inning with a spasm in the middle finger of his right hand, he said unusually, "I think the main reason is fatigue."

Complained of right elbow abnormality and emergency resignation (August 8)

Then, after leaving the mound in the middle of the second inning after complaining of an anomaly in a start against the Reds on August 8, an MRI revealed a ligament injury in his right elbow, ending his season as a pitcher.

Ohtani continued to volunteer as a batter, but suffered a new right flank injury on September 9 and will not play as a batter after that.

He continued to search desperately for a place to play, but as a result of a reexamination, he was forced to give up the season as a batter and underwent surgery on his right elbow on September 4 for the first time since 9.

"Beyond Babe Ruth"

No. 44 Home Run (August 8)

Ohtani's performance, which continues to evolve year by year, is worthy of being called "the best in baseball history," and it is not uncommon to hear from the American media that he is "even beyond Babe Ruth."

Those glorious days came to an abrupt end due to injury, but that doesn't fade Ohtani's achievements, including winning his first home run title.

How will he evolve in his at-bats next season, when he continues to rehabilitate his elbow and concentrates on batting?

And will they be able to regain their dual-wielding brilliance in the 2025 season next year?

Angels teammates who have seen it up close, who have seen it up close, say in unison:

"Shohei Otani will do it."

Final race of the season (10 October)

【Click here for details】Shohei Otani Dictionary 2023