Ohtani has ability to change MLB


Johnny Staley, Staff Writer

Major League Baseball and its fans have been split on the issue of the designated hitter vs. having pitchers bat, but rookie Shohei Ohtani may be the deciding factor in this debate.

Ohtani, a newly acquired member of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, is a starting pitcher, but on days he doesn’t pitch he serves as the team’s designated hitter. Since he has come over from Japan, he has redefined the term “two-way player.”

He has become a rising sensation in the MLB, as he is batting over .300 and has an ERA right around 2. Before Ohtani, pitchers were starting to improve on the offensive side of the game in the National League. Pitchers like Madison Bumgarner and Jake Arrieta have been becoming solid hitters, averaging about .200 and hitting around three home runs a year.

Ohtani clearly is going to surpass these players, with already three home runs just a few weeks into the season, and competing for the league lead in batting average. On the other side of the game, he is performing from the mound with an ERA around 3.50 and a WHIP of 0.80, which are a little above average for a starting pitcher.

Ohtani faced a lot of skepticism from when he first came over from Japan up until Opening Day, but he has exceeded expectations. He is helping to create some attention for other Japanese prospects, but more importantly, he is changing the game.

The belief that no player could have enough time to practice to be a successful hitter and a solid pitcher is being completely disproven. Ohtani is proving that it is possible for strong starting pitchers to be dominant hitters as well.

If Ohtani can continue his early success, pitchers in the future may need to begin to become successful hitters as well to be considered an overall strong player.