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Sho-Time: Ohtani becoming must-see TV

Yes, we’re only 10 games into the season. So far, though, Los Angeles Angels’ star two-way player Shohei Ohtani is living up to the hype.

Many were skeptical of his abilities after a spring training performance that left much to be desired. He started two games, and lasted just 2.2 total innings. He gave up nine runs, eight of them earned, on nine hits and three home runs. He also walked two hitters and hit one. On the other side of the ball, he earned just four hits in 32 at-bats, good for a .125 batting average. He walked three times and drove in one run.

Ohtani’s slow start fed fans’ worries about his ability to successfully make the transition from Japan to the United States. Some even thought he should start the season in Triple A Salt Lake.

Enter the regular season.

Ohtani made the Angels’ Opening Day roster despite his underwhelming spring, and has since performed like a completely different player. Most recently, he dazzled in his first home start Sunday afternoon against the Oakland Athletics. He pitched seven shutout innings, allowing just one hit and one walk, and struck out 12 hitters. Not to mention the fact that he retired the first 19 hitters he faced. Through the first 10 games of the season, Ohtani made two starts. He gave up three earned runs on four hits in 13 innings, against 18 strikeouts. He trails only Cole Hamels, Gerrit Cole, Patrick Corbin, and Clayton Kershaw for the league lead in punchouts.

He has a nasty splitter to thank for his early success.

He’s keeping hitters off-balance with exceptional command of his offspeed pitches after getting ahead in the count with his borderline-100 mph fastball.

Don’t forget, Ohtani can hit too.

He earned 7 hits in his first 18 regular season at-bats, including three home runs and seven RBIs. Through 10 games, he’s slashing .389/.421/.889 with a 1.310 OPS.

Yes, it’s early. But so far, Ohtani is proving the critics wrong. He’s playing as well as anyone in baseball right now, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down.

 

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