Don't Anoint Shohei Ohtani as the Next Babe Ruth Just Yet....
In the current Social Media world we live it is not uncommon for athletes to be anointed the next "Greatest Thing Ever". Occasionally they live up to the hype.
But not often.
The latest Major League Baseball player to get such a title is Japanese import, 23-year old Shohei Ohtani who by most measures is pretty good at this baseball thing.
Ohtani is a pretty good hitter starting the season with a .367 batting average, 3-home runs and 11 RBI's despite not playing in the field as an every day player.
The reason he's not an every day player is because he also pitches. And he's pretty good at that too. At least it appears that way in the early going.
Blessed with a high 90's fastball and a couple of other good pitches, Ohtani has now 3 starts under his belt as a pitcher, the first 2 vs. the Oakland A's whom he pretty much dominated.
Tuesday night, his 3rd start was against a considerably better opponent--the league leading Boston Red Sox.
It did not go well.
Ohtani was pulled after two innings due to a blister on his pitching hand....he'd already been roughed up by the Sox, giving up 3 runs on 4 hits in those two innings. It was easy to see it would be a rough night based on the first of these highlights by Boston OF Mookie Betts who had a huge night...
Remember baseball is a marathon folks, not a sprint. Baseball players will struggle and get hot for periods of time. But don't anoint anyone a star after less than a full month of games.
The Angels will likely find themselves facing a dilemma soon with Ohtani who while a great story due to his pitching and playing the outfield will not likely sustain this long term.
The comp to Babe Ruth is great and all that, but the game has changed since Ruthian days nearly 100-years ago. Playing in the American League where pitcher don't hit will work against Ohtani as well.
Putting him in the outfield everyday gives the Angels a very good outfielder with a very good bat and throwing arm. As a pitcher, every 5 days just doesn't seem fair.
I could see a world where he's a relief pitcher and make this work. But not as a starting pitcher/OF. And hold off on crowning the guy "Rookie of the Year". If we're talking about this in June, then maybe...but not yet.
As for expectations. Fans always are too quick to call someone the next "Thing". Atlanta Braves fans seem perplexed that super young and talented Ronald Acuna is still in the minors now that the Braves have an extra year of contract control.
Acuna lit up Spring training, hitting well over .400, but thus far a AAA Gwinnett, he's not hit half that.
Be patient baseball fan. Shohei Otani will likely be a very good baseball player in the Majors for a long time at whatever position the Angels decide to use him at.
But he's not there yet....