Ohtani becomes 1st player in major league history to qualify for pitching and batting leaderboards in same season

Left : Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani watches his single against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning of a baseball game in Oakland, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022.
Right : Los Angeles Angels starter Shohei Ohtani pitches against the Oakland Athletics during the second inning of a baseball game in Oakland, Calif., on Wednesday.

OAKLAND, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani continues to make history.

D. Ross Cameron, USA TODAY Sports via Reuters
Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani delivers a pitch against the Oakland Athletics during the second inning at Oakland Coliseum on Wednesday.

The Los Angeles Angels two-way superstar took the mound Wednesday in the team’s final game of the season needing to complete one inning to become the first player in the World Series era, which started in 1903, to qualify for the league leaders as a hitter and a pitcher in the same year.

Ohtani had already blown past the 502 plate appearances necessary as a hitter. With his five innings thrown as the starting pitcher against the Oakland Athletics, he logged 166 innings pitched, surpassing the threshold of 162 innings.

“I recognized that both numbers were within reach as long as I could show up consistently,” Ohtani said.

The 28-year-old continued his dominance on the mound, allowing only one run on one hit and a walk while striking out six, but he was credited with the loss as the A’s won 3-2. He also went 1 for 4 batting third as the Angels designated hitter.

Ohtani finished the season 15-9 with a 2.33 ERA and 219 strikeouts, while hitting .273 with 34 homers and 95 RBIs in 666 plate appearances.

Behind Ohtani’s remarkable accomplishments is his high level of awareness in taking care of his body and building it up since he graduated from high school in 2013 and became a professional baseball player.

During the off-season in his first year with Japan’s Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, he visited the laboratory of Takashi Kawamura, an associate professor at the University of Tsukuba and manager of the university’s baseball team. Kawamura specializes in motion analysis, and Ohtani learned about the importance of the muscles used for pitching and hitting.

Ohtani was 19 when Kawamura told him that professional baseball players peak from age 25, so it is a good idea to gradually build up his body. The slender teenager out of high school steadily put on a thicker frame and has finally reached a point in his career where he is a consistent two-way player.

Looking ahead to next season already, Ohtani said, “It’s important to pitch every game with the desire to get better and better.”