Shohei Ohtani
(Charlie Riedel / Associated Press)

Shohei Ohtani Is The Los Angeles Angels’ X-Factor

Let’s cut to the chase. The Angels don’t stand a chance in their division without Shohei Ohtani. Say what you will about Mike Trout, but the fact is, Ohtani can bring it as a two-way player. Pitching is the unsung hero of any baseball team and the Angels are lacking in it. Last year, they had a collective 5.09 ERA which was 13th in the American League. With Ohtani pitching for the first time in three years after being shut down, he will perhaps add the depth they need.

Ohtani already has the bat cooking for him. He is a middle of the lineup guy with mythical power. In his rookie campaign, he hit .286 with 22 home runs and a .925 OPS. On top of that, he also posted an earned run average of 3.31 in ten starts through 51 innings. If Ohtani can replicate what he did in 2018 but also complete at least 25 starts, the Angels will have an ace and a middle of the lineup guy all in one neatly wrapped package. He may also be in consideration for Most Valuable Player since there hasn’t been a true two-way player since the great bambino.

The dude’s a freak. He throws 100, he can swing it, he’s good at going the other way. He’s just all-around a great player on both ends, which is insanely hard to do. For him to pitch, hit and have an idea on both sides and be elite at both, that’s very impressive. You just hope to see him on the field and doing his thing as much as he can.” -Padres pitcher Blake Snell

This Spring Training, Ohtani has been especially stellar. He is batting .636 with four home runs. This is not all. He is also blowing away batters with his 101 mile per hour heater complemented by a nasty curveball. His first two games were shakey but his last game against the Padres gave up only a run through four. He also batted leadoff, becoming the first major leaguer since 1901 to bat leadoff and start a game.

In terms of what this means for the Angels is he’ll be joining a potentially impactful lineup highlighted by Mike Trout, David Fletcher, Anthony Rendon, and Jo Adell. The problem for the team is pitching but Ohtani could fix that just as easily. It could mean a second wild-card spot in the process. Shohei just has to stay healthy.

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