Is Ohtani even better this year than he was in 2021, when he was MVP?

ANAHEIM – After another incredible performance in which he pitched 7.0 scoreless innings and hit an RBI double in a 2-1 win over the Mariners on Saturday, multi-faceted player Shohei Ohtani was asked if he thought he was having a better season. than in 2021, when he unanimously won the American League Most Valuable Player award.

Ohtani, who is in contention with Yankees slugger Aaron Judge for the MVP Award this year, was cautious with his response, but ultimately indicated that he thinks he has been better this year.

“I don’t like to criticize myself in any way,” Ohtani said through his interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. year than the one I had last year.

Ohtani hasn’t had the kind of flashy power numbers or stolen base totals that he did last year, but he has been a more consistent hitter and a much better pitcher than he was last season. So it’s possible to argue that Ohtani is somehow having a better season than he did in 2021.

Ohtani has a .270/.358/.534 batting line with 34 home runs, 27 doubles, six triples and 89 RBIs in his first 144 games of 2022. The Japanese batted .257/.372/.592 with 46 homers, 26 doubles, eight triples and 100 RBIs in 155 games last year.

His offensive numbers are obviously a little lower than last year, but not by much when compared to what the Majors have seen this year. The PAHO+ Ohtani’s, which adjusts for the league and the stadium, was 157 last year and is 149 this year. That means his OPS+ was 57% better than league average last season and is 49% better than average this year.

But where Ohtani makes the difference is in his improvement on the mound. Last year, the right-hander posted a 3.18 ERA with 156 strikeouts, 44 walks and 15 home runs allowed in 130 1/3 innings through 23 starts. This season, Ohtani has made 25 starts and has a 2.43 ERA with 196 strikeouts, 36 walks and 14 four-corner hits allowed in 148 innings.

Ohtani is scheduled to make three more starts this year, and he needs 14 more innings to qualify for the ERA title. The Japanese is also only four strikeouts away from reaching 200 this year. The EFE+ Ohtani’s, which is similar to OPS+, is 165 this year, compared to 141 in 2021. The right-hander has benefited from better control and a highest strikeout rate of the Majors.

Ohtani is likely to finish in the top five in voting for the American League Cy Young Award, after not receiving a single vote last year. The biggest handicap for him is the lack of innings, since he pitches in a six-starter rotation, but when he’s stepped onto the mound, the 28-year-old right-hander has been one of the best pitchers in the majors. Ohtani’s slider has looked more effective than last year’s and he’s also started throwing a two-seam fastball.

As a pitcher, Ohtani ranks third in strikeouts, fifth in ERA and tied for fifth in wins in the American League. And as a hitter, he ranks fourth in OPS, fourth in home runs and tied for sixth in RBIs in the league.

Mix all those numbers together and interim manager Phil Nevin thinks Ohtani deserves to be MVP, despite the incredible season Judge is having. Judge is on track to set the record for most home runs in an American League season and has a shot at the Triple Crown, which is why the Yankees slugger is considered the favorite to win the coveted trophy. But Nevin thinks Ohtani brings more value, because he’s an elite hitter and an elite pitcher.

“I don’t take this for granted at all,” Nevin exclaimed. “We are seeing things that we have never seen before: Being such a dominant player in both facets. I’ve said it before, he’s the most valuable player in our game right now, and until someone else comes along who can do the same as him from both sides, I don’t see why this has to change.”

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