Next season, Hollywood will welcome baseball’s top all-around talent with open arms. In spite of the fact that he will not be able to pitch in 2024 due to Tommy John surgery, the reigning American League MVP Shohei Ohtani signed the largest deal in Major League Baseball history this winter to play designated hitter for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
If Los Angeles wants to win another World Series title, they should invest in Shohei Ohtani, who just finished a season in which he established records en route to MVP honors for the second time in his young career. Just watching him bat is terrifying. Next season, Ohtani might set a record for batting averages even without throwing a pitch.
Ohtani Dominated at the Plate in Historic 2023 Campaign
After becoming one of the most talked-about foreign signings of all time upon his 2018 arrival from Japan, Shohei Ohtani has blossomed into a batting genius. The charming two-way sensation overcame early injuries that limited his effectiveness and finally reached his potential in a spectacular campaign last year.
The Angels’ ace, Shohei Ohtani, frightened opposition pitchers like no one in decades while playing the designated hitter position exclusively. Several advanced metrics assess a batter’s overall contributions; he led the Junior Circuit in home runs (44), total bases (325), adjusted OPS (184), and more.
Ohtani had the best batting average in Major League Baseball (.433) when determined using the Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA) metric, which gives due consideration to each offensive event. His xwOBA of.426 proves the supremacy wasn’t an accident; this statistic accounts for factors like contact quality and eliminates luck.
Ohtani Achieving New Heights of Excellence Through Raw Power, Plate Discipline
Ohtani, who is known for his humility and hard work, evidently recommitted himself to nutrition and physical training prior to last season. He achieved new heights in every category as a consequence, taking his game to the next level.
On average, Ohtani hit the ball 94.4 miles per hour (mph) out of the box, showcasing his exceptional speed. In terms of exit velocity, Ohtani joined the 99th percentile, surpassing only Aaron Judge and Ronald Acuña Jr. Additionally, he joined the select club of feared sluggers like Yordan Alvarez and Judge by barreling up 19.6% of his batted balls.
As a pitcher, you’ll learn to work up into the zone and throw strikes with heat in the high nineties. But no one enjoyed these pitches more than Ohtani, who hit.360 versus fastballs in the upper section of the strike zone that were 95 mph or faster, while the rest of the team hit a pitiful.The 181st position in MLB.
Improving his strikeout rate by laying off pitches outside the strike zone was a crucial area of improvement. Ohtani became an elite by being patient and drawing more walks as his strength grew.Hit 412 times on base. Opposing pitchers will have a hard time finding gaps in their defense against this versatile offensive arsenal.
Tommy John Surgery Not a Concern for Ohtani’s Hitting in 2024
Ohtani will not be able to throw next season due to damage he sustained to the UCL in his throwing elbow last August. But he was completely OK in the weeks after the incident, and the operation that followed was quite successful for pitchers.
Thanks to his keen eye, Shohei Ohtani hit.306 with an eye-popping.490 on-base percentage in 24 games returned from his UCL rupture. A 118.6 mph double off Andrew Bellatti, a hard-throwing reliever for the Phillies, topped off his hot streak.
With his pitching regimen no longer limiting his at-bats, Ohtani, when fit, should be able to repeat his MVP performance. As a devoted slugger, he may be able to take another step forward, given that his two-way responsibilities frequently diverted attention away from hitting preparation and at-bats.
Ohtani Can Make Strong Case For Rare Third MVP Honor in 2024
The conventional opinion in baseball holds that Ohtani will have a tough time winning a third MVP award without throwing a pitch, even though he signed the biggest deal ever for a designated hitter. Indeed, no player has ever taken home the trophy while serving as the starting designated hitter for the whole year.
The closest was Don Baylor, a legend with the Angels who played both designated hitting and outfield in 1979. Ohtani is expected to start at designated hitter for approximately 140 games for the Dodgers next season, despite playing in a handful of interleague games at parks owned by the National League.
Ohtani, on the other hand, has proven time and again that he can defy conventional wisdom by doing things that other players in the modern game would consider impossible. His statistical dominance would be enough to win the National League title if he repeats his performance from last season across the board. This is an extremely high bar to climb, even for the best hitters.
That is why Ohtani has been made the odds-on favorite to win his third Most Valuable Player award. If he dominates the Senior Circuit in Triple Crown categories and advanced measures like wOBA and WAR, his towering presence might be too much for voters to ignore.
The Lone Flaw? No Immediate Solution for Replacing Ohtani’s Value on the Mound
Not being able to compensate for his worth when bumped is the most obvious drawback to Ohtani’s hitting heroics for Los Angeles. Instead of only winning MVP, the right-hander would have been a strong candidate for Cy Young. Despite missing over a month of action last season, he still managed to rack up 5.6 WAR as a pitcher.
The Los Angeles Dodgers may struggle to replace Ohtani’s 200+ innings of ace-level performance, especially with promising young arms like Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander displaying age-related deterioration. The front office will likely look toward filling that void through trades or free agents as they consider pursuing further rings in 2025 and beyond, instead of depending only on depth options.
Instead of relying on Ohtani to pitch once a week, the club can find comfort in letting his hypnotic skill shine every day at the plate. Joining Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman in the lineup, the most powerful bat in baseball will propel Los Angeles’s offensive powerhouse.
Ohtani might only be able to play on one side of the field next year due to his extraordinary talent. Even if he doesn’t throw a pitch, he will continue to be the most exciting baseball player to watch for years to come, since he is a formidable two-way force and a serious contender for most valuable player.