George Herman Ruth, also known as “the Sultan of Swat” or “The Great Bambino” or the “Colossus of Clout” or, more commonly, “Babe”, had a pretty damn good MLB career. That means when anyone gets compared to the Babe, attention is sent almost immediately in their direction. That person in 2018 in Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels.
This past offseason, Ohtani signed a contract to suit up for the Angels for the foreseeable future. Ohtani earned the nickname of “Japanese Babe Ruth” because of his ability to both hit and pitch in Japan. Over the 23-year-olds career in Japan (403 games), Ohtani hit .286 while blasting 48 bombs. As for pitching, Ohtani had a 2.69 ERA with 624 strikeouts in 543 innings.
Ohtani has officially made the Angels 25-man roster to begin 2018, but he should be sporting a Salt Lake Bees (Angels Triple-A affiliate) uniform to at least start the season.
Ohtani’s success in Japan and star power that comes with him is probably the main purpose behind him making the team but based on his performance in Spring Training thus far, he should start in the minors.
In 2.2 innings this Spring, Ohtani has given up eight runs, walked two, and also hit one batter: that adds up to a solid 27.00 ERA.
And, as hard as it may be top believe, Ohtani has been even worse with a bat in his hand. Against major league talent, Ohtani is hitting .107 with three singles. Babe Ruth watch out.
I think putting Ohtani in triple-A after his difficult Spring will only help him.
First off, it will build his confidence. Despite how bad his numbers have been, Ohtani has filthy stuff (high 90’s fastball and a devastating curveball) and would potentially dominate the lower levels with his pitching. As for batting, I am not sold that Ohtani will ever get to the point where he is a major league hitter but putting him against a lower level of competition could help him get his timing down.
Second of all, Ohtani has so much pressure on him at the moment. The Angels should give him time to actually accumulate to being in the United States while calming the pressure that the fans and media have put on him.
Lastly, the Angels really don’t need him on the roster. Sure, if he lives up to his potential he will definitely help but they have enough pitchers and hitters to make up their team. With Ohtani in the rotation, the Angels five is made up of himself, Tyler Skaggs, Garrett Richards, Matt Shoemaker, and J.C. Ramirez.
If Ohtani went to Salt Lake, Los Angeles could simply put Parker Bridwell in the rotation. The 26-year-old Bridwell pitched well for the Angels last year, going 10-3 with a .364 ERA.
As for their lineup, the plan was to have Ohtani only hit a couple days a week, so I am sure sliding Albert Pujols into the DH spot full-time while Ohtani is in the minors wouldn’t be the worst thing.
For baseball fans, Ohtani is one of the most interesting storylines in recent memory. The ability to both pitch and hit in the major leagues just blows people minds.
Who knows how the 2018 season is going to go for Ohtani but, based on numerous factors, starting him off in the MLB was definitely a mistake by the Angels
-Jarrod Ribaudo (@jribs53)