Los Angeles Angels two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani continues to impress in his rookie season. With 90 plate appearances under his belt, he’s slashing .321/.367/.619 with five doubles and six home runs. But that’s far from all. He’s doing things on the mound as well. Despite two rough starts against two of the best offenses in baseball (Boston, Houston), Ohtani is turning heads. His numbers currently look like this: 3.35 ERA, 3.35 FIP and 2.89 DRA across 40.1 innings of work. He’s striking out 32.3 percent of opponents while limiting his walk rate to a solid 8.7 percent.
And recently, his two-way status has taken on another thought: could we see Ohtani in the Home Run Derby? Per ESPN, he almost can’t believe he’s in the conversation.
“I don’t think I’m at that level yet. I’m honored to be in that conversation.”
Again, he does already have six home runs across just 90 plate appearances. Plus we have to keep in mind that Ohtani is currently working as a part-time DH. But let’s look at the home run leaderboard first. Teammates Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez are currently pacing the league with 15 dingers apiece. We don’t know if generational talents like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper would participate (Trout says he eventually will, Harper did in 2013), but that’s the kind of star-power MLB should want in their derby. Ohtani has that special kind of star-power right now. Not to mention, there’s the downright silly and raw power of Joey Gallo, Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton to keep in mind.
But as Angels manager Mike Scioscia says, it’s not their call. It’s Ohtani’s. Speaking to ESPN, he explains:
“That’s a player’s decision. I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of things that come into what a player decides, but it’s always been the prerogative of a player if he wants to participate in things like that.”
In other words, Scioscia and the Angels won’t stop him if that’s what he wants to do. And for what it’s worth, Ohtani would participate and win Japan’s Home Run Derby back in 2016.