Fans of Major League Baseball are witnessing history-in-the-making right now with the mounting accomplishments of Los Angels outfielder-pitcher Shohei Ohtani. As a dual threat on the diamond, he’s doing things that no one, not even the iconic Babe Ruth, has done before.
Perhaps that’s why it was only fitting that the Japanese sensation passed up The Bambino this week, in terms of combining hitting and pitching prowess. Ruth famously was a dominant starting pitcher for the Red Sox before becoming the game’s gauge for slugging. Besides a handful of players – like former Cardinal Rick Ankiel – no one has even attempted to play both in the field and on the mound. Much less had any success at it.
With his 502nd career strikeout, Shohei Ohtani passed Babe Ruth (501 K) on the all-time strikeout list pic.twitter.com/Jv1pKUwVIY
— Brent Maguire (@bmags94) May 10, 2023
That was until Ohtani emerged from The Land of the Rising Sun to shine a light on the modern game.
The 28-year-old pitches righthanded and hits lefthanded – both at an elite level. On Tuesday when he struck out Astros shortstop Jeremy Peña in the second inning, the two-way star broke an 88-year record held by Babe Ruth. Shohei Ohtani now has accrued the most strikeouts by a pitcher with a minimum of 100 career home runs at the plate.
Ohtani, the 2021 AL MVP, struck out seven in a 3-1 loss to the Astros. He’s currently 4-1 in the early stages of this 2023 season. Following the game, he commented on what it meant to pass The Sultan of Swat in terms of being a double threat, statistically.
“It’s a great thing that I could pass (Ruth), but I felt like I could’ve struck out more hitters today,” Ohtani said after the game via a translator. “It’s still a long season. It’s still early. I just want to stay healthy and end the season healthy.”
The Angels finish play against the Astros on Thursday. The team will start a three-game series against the Guardians in Cleveland on Friday.