Ohtani’s ‘152-kilometer dune soreness’ forgotten… Perfect on the mound, bad at the plate, team escapes 3-game losing streak

Shohei Ohtani (29-LAA) is fading. After a 2021 in which he epitomized “Idoryu” by leading the league in home runs, and a year in which he proved that he can also pitch at the highest level in the league, there were high hopes that this season would be a step up in both areas of his game, but he has had a disappointing first half of the season.

Ohtani started the 2023 Major League Baseball (MLB) World Series against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago, Illinois, USA, on Tuesday (July 30), batting third and going 1-for-4 with a walk and a run scored.

Has been in an extreme hitting slump over his last four games. One hit in 16 at-bats. His season average has dropped from .269 to .263.

It started in the first inning. With one out and one on, Ohtani was hit in the calf by a 94.6 mph (152.2 km/h) fastball from starter Michael Kopeck and winced in pain. Fortunately, it didn’t lead to any major injury, and Ohtani walked to first base under his own power. Ohtani then came home on Brandon Drury’s three-run homer.

But the batting didn’t come easily. He was stranded on second and third in the second inning on a fielder’s choice, and on second and first in the fourth on a swinging strikeout. In the top of the seventh, he faced bullpen reliever Keenan 메이저놀이터 Middleton, but again, he struck out swinging. In his final at-bat in the top of the eighth, he couldn’t get the ball out of the outfield on a grounder to shortstop.

Ohtani broke into the big leagues in 2018, but injuries and other issues prevented him from reaching the heights he had hoped for.

In 2021, his fourth season, he proved his worth to the world. As a hitter, he batted .257 with 46 home runs, 100 RBI, and 103 runs scored. His OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) reached 0.964. He also pitched well, going 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 130⅓ innings. Ohtani was unanimously named the American League (AL) MVP that year.

Last year, he still hit .273 with 34 home runs, 95 RBIs, and 90 runs scored, which is still among the best in the league, but the comparison to 2021 is a bit of a stretch. His OPS was .875, but he was far more dominant on the mound. In 166 innings pitched, he went an incredible 15-9 with a 2.33 ERA.

Heading into this season, he was a two-hitter at the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC), where he helped Japan defeat the world’s top-ranked team, the United States, to win the tournament. Expectations were high for the season, and he didn’t show any signs of slowing down.

On the mound, he went 5-1 with a 2.91 ERA in 11 games and 65 innings pitched. While this doesn’t sound like anything special, it’s worth noting his batting average. After holding batters to just 0.207 and 0.203, his BABIP is even lower at 0.155 this season. He’s dominating the league with a fastball that touches 160 mph and a sweeper that’s perfect. It’s a shame he can’t rack up more wins.

His batting is a different story. In 53 games, he’s batting .263 with 12 home runs and 33 RBIs, but both his on-base percentage (.339) and slugging percentage (.498) are down significantly from the past two seasons. Ohtani is a player you don’t have to worry about, so his recent four-game slump looks awkward.

Fortunately, the Angels snapped a three-game losing streak with a 6-4 win. LA is now 29-26 and in third place in the AL West, six games behind the Texas Rangers and three games behind the Houston Astros. With the win, the Chicago White Sox remain in fourth place in the AL Central with a 22-34 record.

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