As an old school baseball fan, your humble scribe keeps watching the Angels SP/DH Shohei Ohtani with absolute wonder. Leaving aside the fact that he was the starting pitcher for the American League in the All-Star game, can his batting skills really be this amazing? After all, he has struck out in 1/3 of his at-bats this season, so there are certainly holes in his swing.
Utilizing the new-age stats supplied by MLB’s “StatCast”, let’s look inside the numbers and see how Ohtani compares to his contemporaries who are only batters. Statistics are as of July 18th…
- Exit Velocity (EV) measures the speed of the baseball as it comes off the bat. Ohtani’s average speed is 93.6 mph, tied for 5th in all of baseball with Fernando Tatis Jr.
- Maximum Exit Velocity (maxEV) gives us the fastest batted ball for each player. Ohtani’s is tied for 2nd with Aaron Judge at 119 mph.
- Barrel Percentage (Barrel %) calculates how often a batter hits a baseball with at least a speed of at least 98 mph with a certain launch angle. Ohtani has a number of 25.5%…no other player is even at 21%!
- Hard Hit Rate (Hard Hit %) shows how many of a player’s batted balls left the bat with a velocity of at least 95 mph. Ohtani is 4th at 56.3%.
- Expected Slugging Percentage (xSLG) takes the historical slugging percentage stat and updates it to eliminate the defensive skills of the opposing team. Ohtani’s number of .675 is the best in the game by over 30 points.
- Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) is an extension of a statistic originally introduced by Bill James. The calculation is adjusted so that the major league average is 100. Ohtani is at 173, 2nd only to Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
- Isolated Power (ISO) measures the raw power of a player by taking only extra-base hits into account. Ohtani’s number of .405 is 40 points ahead of 2nd place.
Are you impressed yet? How about some basic research?
- He is one of three players with an OPS figure over 1.000.
- He leads all of baseball with 33 Home Runs.
- He’s second in RBI’s.
- He’s also stolen 12 bases.
- And, turning to our old friend “Wins Above Replacement” (WAR), he’s the best in the game at 5.5 (3.6 batting and 1.9 pitching).
The big picture is that we’re all having the opportunity to watch history being made by a generational talent.