Name him the Rookie of the Year now. Start stenciling his name on the MVP trophy just in case. Hell, maybe begin carving a Cooperstown plaque with 15 exclamation points at the end. After Shohei Ohtani’s two-way performance the past four days, there’s no overreaction too far.
The Angels rookie just homered off of Corey Kluber, one of the four best starting pitchers on the planet, barreling up a 92 mile-per-hour four-seamer and driving it 400 feet just left of dead center. It drifted back and over Bradley Zimmer’s head, then up and over the wall, and Ohtani rounded the bases with a home run for the second time in two days. His MLB batting line at the time of publication is .455/.455/1.000, with two home runs and five total hits in 11 at-bats. He ranks second among all hitters with 10-plus plate appearances in wRC+, at 224 percent better than a league-average hitter.
And he moonlights as a pitcher who induced 18 swinging strikes in his first MLB start on Sunday, striking out six and allowing just four base runners in six innings.
Throughout spring training and his first regular-season game at the plate, Ohtani’s swing and offensive approach were cause for great concern (including from this very author—oops). He hit just 4-for-32 in spring training with no extra-base hits, and despite recording his first official hit on Opening Day, he went just 1-for-5 in that game with four grounders and a strikeout. It doesn’t matter how much latent power Ohtani possesses or how hard he can hit the ball if everything goes on the ground.
But as the Angels’ DH against Cleveland on Tuesday and Wednesday, Ohtani has hit the ball in the air with a triple-digit exit velocity four times, yielding two exuberant homers and two rocket singles. And after striking out looking against Kluber in his first at-bat on Wednesday, Ohtani adjusted in his second trip to the plate and lofted the Cleveland ace’s fastball over the fence.
He throws pitches 100 miles per hour and hits them 110; he’s now smashing line drives to the pull side and up the middle; he’s the most exciting player in the sport, bar none, and giving absolutely zero reason to doubt that designation. Let your imagination run wild; at this rate, chances are Ohtani will top whatever you can dream.