Loading... Please wait...

Shohei Ohtani Crushing Balls, Missing Bats

Posted by


The best all-around show in baseball, Shohei Ohtani, gets the start for the Angels as they face the Indians tonight.

Ohtani has been a nightly highlight reel at the plate as the Angels’ DH and has been impressive, albeit a little inconsistent, on the mound. He leads the majors with 14 home runs and ranks second in slugging percentage at .632. In five starts, Ohtani has a 2.10 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings. The one blemish on his ledger is that he’s allowed 20 walks, though only 11 hits.

At the plate, Ohtani’s 26 extra-base hits are double the number he had in 2020, in only two more at-bats. Ohtani’s 2021 numbers are better than his 2020 numbers in many ways, the most basic of which is that he’s largely crushing pitchers' mistakes.

Ohtani is hitting .339 with eight home runs on 161 pitches thrown in the middle of the strike zone, height-wise. Last season, he hit .176 with three home runs on 171 pitches thrown to that area.

On the mound, Ohtani has racked up strikeouts. Putaway rate is defined as the percentage of two-strike pitches that get turned into strikeouts. It’s intended to measure both effectiveness (number of strikeouts) and efficiency (how quickly the pitcher went from two strikes to a strikeout). Ohtani ranks second in the majors in this stat. He and Jacob deGrom are well ahead of the rest of the field.

Here are the MLB leaders in putaway rate among those who have thrown at least 100 two-strike pitches.

Highest Putaway Rate in MLB
2021 Season (Minimum 100 two-strike pitches)

Pitcher Team Rate
Jacob deGrom Mets 38.9%
Shohei Ohtani Angels 38.8%
Corbin Burnes Brewers 34.9%
Matt Barnes Red Sox 32.4%
Shane Bieber Indians 32.4%
Freddy Peralta Brewers 32.4%

>>Percentage of two-strike pitches converted into strikeouts

Specifically, it’s the split-fingered fastball that is Ohtani’s nastiest pitch. Opponents are 1-for-36 in at-bats ending with that pitch. Of the 50 swings that hitters have taken against it, they’ve missed 30.

Ohtani’s putaway rate with the splitter is 49% (28 strikeouts on 57 two-strike pitches). That’s the highest rate for any pitch in MLB (minimum 20 two-strike pitches thrown).

Ohtani is coming off his best start of the season, striking out 10 and allowing one run in seven innings against the Astros. He’s hit a home run in three straight games and four of his last five. Having pitched and hit in the same game three times, he’s the closest thing that baseball has right now to a Babe Ruth-like player, and his daily highlights have been a must-watch.

Sign up to our newsletter

Recent Updates