Returning to the Los Angeles Angels’ lineup following a monthlong injury layoff, Shohei Ohtani finally reminded everyone last Sunday night why he ranks among baseball’s most electrifying players. Pinch-hitting against the crosstown rival Dodgers in the seventh inning, Ohtani blasted a 2-2 fastball from JT Chargois 443 feet to center field, giving the Angels what eventually proved to be a decisive lead in the game.
Ohtani’s ability to crush those towering homers while also slinging nasty splitters is what makes him unprecedented in the modern game. At the time of the arm injury that shut him down in early June, he ranked among the American League’s best dozen or so hitters and pitchers on the season. However, that injury — a ligament strain to Ohtani’s pitching elbow — has limited him to “just” hitting for the foreseeable future. Since Ohtani throws right-handed but hits lefty, he can swing the bat without putting much strain on his damaged elbow.