These are some thoughts and questions about Shohei Ohtani, the Angels in general, and the connection to Mike Trout. Perhaps some of you all had the same thoughts, perhaps you didn’t. This is just a stream of consciousness. It’s not meant to share Ohtani facts that have been shared many places before, but rather it’s my attempt to contemplate the meaning of all of it. We all know he’s leading the Majors in home runs. We all know he’s doing things that haven’t been done since Babe Ruth. What is the impact?
When Shohei Ohtani makes contact, as our own Rick Souddress eloquently points out, it’s hard to believe that it won’t leave the yard. You expect the baseball to leave the yard. I don’t think I’ve experienced this phenomenon with anyone else. I expect Mike Trout to lace the ball, but I’ve become accustomed to seeing his gorgeous line drives singles and doubles. Shohei’s bombs are majestic.
This is not to say that I appreciate home runs from Ohtani more than I do from Trout. It’s an entirely different feeling. With Trout, I appreciate the beauty of how he manages to hit a line drive so freaking hard that it leaves the yard. It’s a feeling of happiness. With Ohtani, my heart leaps into my chest. Trout’s big flies leave me feeling satisfied, because I expected it. Ohtani’s big flies leave me breathless, because I cannot believe what I am witnessing.
In essence, Mike Trout will always be my favorite player. He was formative to me, not when I was learning the game of baseball but when I was slowly appreciating how much I loved the game. I simply don’t think there will be a player that takes the place in my heart that Trout occupies.
Mike Trout has never made me feel the way Shohei Ohtani is now.
This is the first season that Ohtani has DH’d the day before and after he starts. It’s probably not sustainable in the long-term, as even Babe Ruth said a player can’t hit and pitch as often as he did. We might only have one or two years left of this glorious duality. I know I am going to appreciate it as much as I can.
It’s almost similar to the Trout vs. Ohtani feelings debate again. I irrationally believe Trout’s prime will last forever. I know that Ohtani only has a short span of this pitching-hitting double-edged sword.
(But if it is sustainable…)
This is something I’ve said a few times on the site now: for the next best player in baseball debate, I dabbled a little with Juan Soto back when he was tearing it up (he still is). But I knew in May, and the events of the last few months have firmed it up, that I 100% believe with all my heart that Shohei Ohtani will be the player to fully take the reins from Mike Trout.
I know this is definitely not how it works…but if I am a billionaire and I own the Angels, I would spend like $500 million a year. Clayton Kershaw? Come on down for 2 years, $120 million. Doesn’t work out? Just eat it. Zack Greinke? Whatever you want to be paid. Corey Seager? Here’s a massive deal. I would lose a ton of money, but I don’t think being saddled with the legacy of owning Trout-Ohtani teams into mediocrity is better at all.
Can a player (Mike Trout) be known as the Greatest Baseball Player of all Time if he spends half his career with a player better than he is?
Will Albert Pujols, unanimous first-ballot Hall of Famer, have played multiple seasons with players who will have better careers than his?
People are always mad about takes that seem to be tinted with “East Coast Bias.” I personally don’t get mad anymore. I get sad. Those individuals with the unfortunate situation of living three hours ahead of Anaheim don’t have the ability, don’t have the choice to, even if not to watch the entire Angels game, flip on an Ohtani or Trout at-bat. My heart goes out to them.
The pitching needs work. It won’t be fixed this year. Maybe it won’t be fixed next year. The math says the Angels probably won’t make the playoffs, much less get to the World Series.
The math has never dealt with Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout at the peak of their powers.
Being an Angels fan recently hasn’t dealt a lot of successful hands. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Title Image from Angels Twitter