Some Telling Quotes on Shohei Otani’s 2021 Batting Performance
As part of the series featuring quotes on top athletes from the “Sports Graphic Number” magazine and “Number Web,” we have selected three quotes commenting on “Shohei Otani as a batter in 2021.”
If things continue to go well this year, I’ll probably achieve my career-high stats, and in turn, they’ll probably become my future benchmark.
(Shohei Otani, Number Web September 10, 2021)
The climax of the brilliant 2021 season for Shohei Otani was the spectacular lead batter arch. In the match against the Seattle Mariners on October 4 (local time October 3), Otani started as “No. 1 designated hitter.” No sooner the “play ball” call, he hit the cutter from Mariners starting pitcher Anderson, sending an 182 km/h (113 mph) liner bullet over the right wing.
Otani finished two homers behind in the home run race, with Salvador Perez (Kansas City Royals) and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Toronto Blue Jays) sharing the championship title. Yet he hit 46 homers this season, record-high for a Japanese player, and also achieved 100 runs batted in for the first time since Hideki Matsui in 2007.
Here are the final stats for Otani. The figures in brackets show the rankings within the American League.
Batting average .257, 46 homers (3), 100 runs batted in (13), 26 bases stolen (5), 8 triple-base hits (1), OPS .965
All incredible figures.
Even the three-time home-run champion Nolan Arenado of St. Louis Cardinals says, “He’s sure to be the MVP of the American League. Vladdy (Guerrero Jr.) is also doing great, but Otani is doing terrific in both batting and pitching, so he should be chosen.”
The opening quote by Otani is from the Number interview in September. Including his stats as a pitcher—9 wins, 2 losses, 3.18 earned run average, and 156 strikeouts—applying results this good as a benchmark is just exceptional. Yet with a potential like Otani’s, expectations are already high for 2022.
Even his teammates are saying, “Nothing is impossible for Shohei.”
Blasting Home Runs and Pitching 101 mph Fastballs
He’s definitely a unicorn.
(Jared Walsh/Number Web April 19, 2021)
“Blasting a home run then pitching at 101 mph is just unbelievable” (Mike Trout)
“It’s like he’s playing in Little League while being in MBL” (Max Stassi)
Angels’ teammates rave about Otani. It was Walsh, who also used to be a former two-way player, that likened him to the imaginary creature.
Walsh says, “His impressive attitude in the clubhouse is worthy of respect. Hitting 115 mph balls and throwing over 100 mph is a great physical burden. Same can be said for maintaining concentration for both pitching and batting. It’s really tough.”
Walsh himself finished the season with excellent performance following Otani, at .277 batting average, 29 home runs, 98 runs batted in, and .850 OPS, amid the faltering batting lineup with Trout and others absent from injuries. For the next season, we hope to see Trout return and Walsh’s bat explode, to back up Otani the unicorn who was swamped with four balls late in the season.
In football you play once a week, in basketball, three times a week. He plays almost every day. And he pitches and hits. This is really tough. It’s so remarkable, we shouldn’t underestimate it.
(Joe Maddon/Number Web July 18, 2021)
Praise for Otani even extends outside of the Major League Baseball. Kevin Durant of National Basketball Association (NBA) is such a big fan of Otani that he actually goes to the stadium. The National Football League (NFL) star player J.J. Watt who has received the Defensive Player of the Year Award three times, tweeted, “It feels like a lot of people are talking about Shohei Ohtani but still nowhere near enough people are talking about Shohei Ohtani. What he’s doing in baseball is insane.”
“It’s really good that other star athletes acknowledge that.”
Hopes for “Postseason Sho-Time” in Next Season
Angels Manager Joe Maddon must have said this with a glee because players across the sports world are praising the prowess of the athlete Otani. Both American football and basketball are tough sports involving physical contact. Yet, as Otani played day in and day out as a pitcher and a batter, his physical strength and condition management must have impressed Durant and Watt.
Joe Maddon is also a tactician who has led the underdog Tampa Bay Rays to a team that rivals New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox in the American League East division. Following 2021 in which Otani established his two-way style, we hope Maddon will strengthen Angels so we can enjoy the spectacular feats of Otani in postseason.