The Los Angeles Angels should consider abandoning the Shohei Ohtani pitching experiment
Remember when writers and scouts alike hyped up Shohei Ohtani as the next great dual-threat baseball player? Or calling him the modern day Babe Ruth? That’s why nearly the entire league tried prying Ohtani away from the Nippon Professional Baseball league, but the Los Angeles Angels emerged victorious.
So far, the pitching aspect of it hasn’t worked out, as earlier this week, Angels manager Joe Maddon shut down Ohtani from taking the mound for the remainder of the season due to a forearm strain near his surgically-repaired pitching elbow. But, that didn’t mean Ohtani couldn’t step in the batter’s box. In his very first at-bat since the forearm strain, Ohtani smashed a home run in Los Angeles’ game against the Seattle Mariners on Thursday.
It’s time to make Ohtani the Angels’ permanent designated hitter.
Ohtani much more valuable at batting than pitching
Despite all the hype, Ohtani’s arm never really translated to the MLB-level. He pitched in 10 games during his first season, where he recorded a 3.31 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 51.2 innings of work. However, that all came to an end after elbow issues led to him undergoing Tommy John surgery in September 2018.
In his return to the mound this season, Ohtani showed no improvement, as he owns a bloated 37.80 ERA and has only struck out three batters in 1.2 innings pitched (two games). That was when Ohtani was shut down due to the forearm strain.
Ohtani is much more valuable at the plate. That was evidenced in 2018, where he won the AL Rookie of the Year Award, albeit controversially. As of this writing, Ohtani has a slash-line of .282/.345/.528 while recording 42 home runs, 130 RBI and 207 hits in his career.
The Angels have to accept the fact that Ohtani pitching for a full season is never going to happen, especially when he’s pulling double duty. If they want to protect their investment, they must keep Ohtani as the full-time DH from here on out.