Lindbergh: Ohtani’s abbreviated rookie season has still been a near-miracle

From SABR member Ben Lindbergh at The Ringer on September 14, 2018:

o athlete has ever revved me up more than Shohei Ohtani, who arrived in the majors this spring after years of anticipation. When healthy, Ohtani had been both the best pitcher and the best hitter in Japan’s highest-level league at an unthinkably early age, and his decision to extend his two-way experiment stateside promised a spectacle unseen for a century. Amid the Christmas-comes-early reaction to reports that he’d signed with the Angels last December, the only negative note was the news that a leaked MRI in November had detected low-grade damage to his ulnar collateral ligament.

Although the Angels handled Ohtani like the underpaid prize he is, pitching him once a week even when he was believed to be healthy, further fraying of that ligament eventually suspended the experiment—first in June, and finally last week, when another MRI showed new damage that will likely lead to ligament replacement surgery after this season and limit Ohtani to DH duty in 2019. Now sidelined as a pitcher but uninhibited as a hitter, Ohtani is batting cleanup in the Angels lineup nearly every night, and his full-season stats are superb: a .295/.376/.593 slash line with 19 home runs in 304 plate appearances as a DH, and a 3.31 ERA with a 3.56 FIP and a 30 percent strikeout rate in 51 ⅔ innings as a starting pitcher.

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Originally published: September 18, 2018. Last Updated: September 18, 2018.