“Baseball genius” Shohei Ohtani (29, Los Angeles Angels) may be done for the 2023 season.
On the 16th (KST), American media outlets including MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball, reported that “Ohtani’s locker in the Angels clubhouse has been removed”.
This news has already led to speculation that Ohtani will miss the rest of the season. The Angels are expected to make an official announcement on Sunday.
Ohtani made his “Idoryu” debut as a starter and designated hitter in the first game of a doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds on March 23. After activating the home run gun in his first at-bat of the first inning, Ohtani felt unwell in the top of the second inning and sent an “SOS” sign to the bench. After coming off the mound, Ohtani was examined at a hospital and diagnosed with a torn ligament in his right elbow.
This ended his season as a pitcher, but he was determined to play as a hitter, believing that the injury would not affect his hitting too much. He was so determined that he started the second game of the doubleheader against Cincinnati as a designated hitter.
But that didn’t last long. Ohtani didn’t hit another home run in his next 10 games. He went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts against the Oakland Athletics on April 4. This time, it was his side. It still remains the last game of Ohtani’s 2023 season. Angels manager Phil Nevin reiterated that “he always wants to play,” but in the end, it’s looking increasingly likely that Ohtani won’t return and will be done for the season. The Angels’ announcement on Sunday is also likely to be injury-related.
Ohtani’s journey this season has been a great one. As a hitter, he has appeared in 135 games, batting .304 with a .412 on-base percentage, .654 slugging percentage, and 1.066 OPS with 44 home runs, 95 RBIs, and 20 doubles, and still leads the American League in home runs and slugging percentage. On the mound, Ohtani has been a quality starter, going 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA in 23 starts and 132 innings pitched.
There are certainly a number of issues that will be interesting to see what happens after Ohtani’s 2023 season.
The first question is whether Ohtani will win the American League MVP award if he goes down early. According to Japanese sports publication Sportshochi, “Even if Ohtani doesn’t play in the future, he is sure to become the first Japanese major leaguer to win the American League home run title, as he leads the league’s home run leader, Lewis Robert (Chicago White Sox), by nine, and the White Sox have only 14 games left. Add to that his 10 wins and 44 home runs, and he has a good chance of winning the American League MVP award. In addition, he reached triple digits in batting average for the first time in his six-year major league career and posted career highs in slugging percentage, on-base percentage, and RBI.”
It remains to be seen if Ohtani will end up on the operating table. Ohtani has a torn elbow ligament that will require Tommy John surgery, but he hasn’t yet decided whether or not to have the procedure. Having already undergone Tommy John surgery in 2018, it will be interesting to see what he decides to do.
Ohtani is eligible for free agency after this season. Already labeled the “biggest free agent” in baseball, Ohtani is the only candidate to break Mike Trout’s all-time record for the most expensive contract. Trout signed a 12-year, $426.5 million deal with the Angels, and last summer, when Ohtani was at the peak of his popularity, local media reported that a “$500-600 million deal is possible.”토토사이트
For now, though, it’s likely that Ohtani’s price tag will be lower than expected, given that he’ll be virtually unavailable to pitch next year. Still, expect him to be treated as at least a top-tier slugger in free agency. Aaron Judge, who set the American League record for most home runs in a season last year, signed a nine-year, $360 million deal with the New York Yankees in free agency. There is some speculation that Ohtani could get a similar deal, at least as a hitter.
Of course, this assumes that Ohtani is able to play a full season at the plate next year. We can’t wait to see what the Angels will announce on Sunday.