“We walked too many leadoff hitters. It’s stressful, and I need to cut it down.”
Shohei Ohtani (29, Los Angeles Angels) dominates major league hitters with his 160 mph fastball and powerful sweeper combination. His 12.20 strikeouts per nine innings are third in the majors and first in the American League. But his K/BB is just 3.20.
That’s because he walks a relatively high 3.81 batters per nine innings. It’s a problem that came out of nowhere this year. In fact, he had 56 walks in 23 games and 130⅓ innings in 2021 and 46 walks in 28 games and 166 innings in 2022. This season, however, he’s already given up 33 in 10 games and 59 innings. He’s on pace for 100 K’s this season.
He continued his dominance at home against the Minnesota Twins on April 22 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California, USA. In his start, Ohtani allowed one run on six hits and two walks, striking out nine and walking four (three balls plus a wild pitch).
Two of the four walks were to leadoff hitters. The leadoff hitter has been particularly prone to walks this season. He gave up free passes to Joey Gallo in the first and Eduardo Julien in the second. In the third inning, he walked leadoff hitter Donovan Solano, but two batters later gave up a walk to Gallo and an RBI double to Carlos Correa.
Ohtani is 5-1 with a 3.05 ERA in 10 starts this season. Not bad, but not overwhelming. After going 4-1 with a 2.25 ERA in five games in April, Ohtani is 1-1 with a 4.68 ERA in four games in May, which is not typical of him. He walked 20 batters in 28 innings in April, compared to 10 in 25 innings in May. That means fewer free passes, but more hits.
That said, leadoff walks are something that has bothered Ohtani. After the game against Minnesota on April 22, he told MLB.com, “It’s not just the first batter of the game. I’ve walked too many leadoff hitters this season. It’s stressful, and I need to cut it down.” 메이저사이트
Of course, manager Phil Nevin didn’t seem too worried, saying, “I couldn’t believe he walked the leadoff hitter, but then he didn’t do it for a while. I joked today that he’s going to do something even more spectacular when he walks a batter. As much as he doesn’t like leadoff singles, today was a good day for us.”
At this point, Ohtani’s lack of walks, especially leadoff free passes, is pretty much the only weakness in an otherwise “flawless” Ohtani. Addressing that weakness could change his price tag in 2022-2023 free agency. For Ohtani, who will likely get $500 million, to be a sure bet for a $600 million contract, he’ll need to address this concern.