Shohei Ohtani 1st Player Since Babe Ruth to Pitch 50 Innings and Hit 15 Homers

Rob Goldberg@TheRobGoldbergFeatured ColumnistSeptember 3, 2018

HOUSTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 02:  Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitches in the first inning against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park on September 2, 2018 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Bob Levey/Getty Images

On Sunday, Shohei Ohtani accomplished something we haven't seen in the majors since 1919.

After retiring two Houston Astros hitters, Ohtani hit a statistical threshold last achieved by Babe Ruth, via SportsCenter:

SportsCenter @SportsCenter

Shohei Ohtani is the first player since Babe Ruth in 1919 with 50 IP and 15 HR in a single season. That's 99 years! https://t.co/0h1kPJL4wL

The two-way player already had 15 home runs on the season as a hitter but was sitting on 49.1 innings pitched until Sunday's start.

Although the Japanese star allowed two runs in 2.1 innings on a George Springer two-run homer, it only raised his ERA to 3.31 on the season.

Ohtani threw only 49 pitches in his first appearance as a pitcher since June 6. An elbow injury has kept him off the mound and only in the batter's box.

The good news is he has been as good as advertised as a hitter, producing a .276 batting average and .897 OPS in 80 appearances this season. In addition to his 15 home runs, he also has 16 doubles and 43 RBI.

In a sport where most players specialize as hitters or pitchers, the 24-year-old has shown the ability to excel in both.

Any time you are in the same category as Ruth it is also a major accomplishment. The Hall of Famer mostly abandoned his pitching career after being sold to the New York Yankees in 1920, but he had 2.97 ERA in 133.1 innings in 1919.

He also happened to lead the majors with 29 home runs that season.

Considering he went on to hit 714 home runs in his career, focusing on hitting was probably the right move.


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