If you like really Weird Baseball — and you’re a little bit greedy — the first season of Shohei Ohtani was, you’d have to admit, not really weird enough. He did not, for instance, play right field and then jog to the mound mid-inning to strike somebody out. He did not pinch hit in the eighth inning to give his team the lead, and then stay in the game to get the save. He did not homer four times and pitch a no-hitter in the same game. (Seriously, you are really greedy.)nike nfl jerseys cheap china
No. All he did is hit some days, pitch in some other ones. In the broad scheme of things, he was doing something nobody else can do, but in the very specific scheme of things — when you are at a Los Angeles Angels game and trying to explain to a baseball-casual companion what’s so special about what they’re watching — Ohtani was … doing things lots of people can do. Hitting, or pitching. Or sitting on the bench, because of how many days off it takes to let a guy hit and pitch in the same week (but not at the same time).
I bring this up not to say that the Ohtani viewing experience was a letdown, but to express with great admiration and surprise that it wasn’t. The unicorn aspect of Ohtani turns out to be hard to capture in a single camera shot, or even in a single game. But the more mundane, discrete abilities of Ohtani — as a hitter, and as a pitcher, separately, on separate days — are extraordinary in themselves.cheap nfl nike jerseys from china
Let’s look at every hitter who was, in an age-23 or age-24 season, in the same range of offensive production as Ohtani. We set the parameters from a 138 OPS+ — or, 38 percent higher than the league average, after adjustments for context — to a 172 OPS+, and that got us 135 other seasons. But not all of those are particularly useful comps. Nick Johnson is in that group, but Nick Johnson — who rarely homered but walked constantly — isn’t very similar to Ohtani. Nor is Rickey Henderson or Trea Turner.
So the next step: We took Ohtani’s walk rate, strikeout rate and isolated power (slugging percentage minus batting average), and normalized them against the league averages. Ohtani walked about 36 percent more than the average hitter this year, so his walk rate would be (for our purposes) 136, where 100 is average. He struck out 37 percent more often than the average hitter. His isolated power was 93 percent higher than the league average.
So that’s what we know about Ohtani the hitter: He’s really young and really good, and he walks and strikes out more (but not extremely more) than the league average, and he has massive power that shows up in games.
We repeated these steps with the other 135 player seasons and sorted the players by how similar their normalized walk, strikeout and power rates were to Ohtani’s. Nobody who was this good at this age was less like Ohtani than Tony Gwynn. (The system works!) And nobody who was this good at this age was more like Ohtani than …