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Shohei Ohtani Tops CBS List Of Players For 2023: Is 2023 The Ultimate Season For Ohtani?

John Moran

Shohei Ohtani, displaying his unmatched hitting ability as well as his stunning pitching, all under the number seventeen.

Japan has just brought the World Baseball Classic title home, a title which came largely on the back of their two-way megastar, Shohei Ohtani. The Los Angeles Angels ace, who plays for Japan in the WBC, threw heat and smashed balls throughout the spring series against some of the world’s best ball players. Across his 23 plate appearances, he posted 10 hits (tied for most in the WBC) and a .606 on base percentage (5th best). While these hitting stats alone would make the 28-year-old one of the best players in the world, his play out in the middle of the diamond is just as strong. Ohtani struck out 11 batters while only walking 2, all while maintaining an incredible 1.86 earned run average across 9.2 innings pitched, the most out of any pitcher in the tournament. This second statistic makes Ohtani a talent unlike any seen throughout the entire history of baseball, but you already know this; CBS does too.

In CBS’s most recent top players list, Ohtani placed as the best player in Major League Baseball, above players like Angels teammate Mike Trout, who he struck out on three swinging strikes, an occurrence that has only happened to Trout 24 times out of a total of 6,174 MLB plate appearances. Ohtani also beat out home run record breaker Aaron Judge, and young NL MVP candidate Juan Soto. While CBS has Ohtani atop the pyramid going into his sixth season, CBS analysts only placed him at sixth after his 2021 AL MVP winning season. So, what is the reason for this and why wasn’t he placed into that top list spot in 2022?

The reasons behind it are many. The first is that Ohtani’s career has been plagued by injury. Being a two way player of his caliber, injuries are much more likely, displayed by the fact that he missed 55 games of the 2019 season due to surgery and has struggled with smaller issues throughout the 2020 season. The increased risk of injury prompted CBS analysts to be more cautious in ranking him as sixth in 2022. However, his high placing for this season stems from a variety of positive reasons.

Throughout the course of the 2022 season, Ohtani improved in almost every way. After his absolutely historic 2021 season, which he concluded with 46 home runs and a 3.18 ERA, he only got better. While his home run count dropped in 2022 to ‘only’ a count of 34 (still good enough to tie for eighth in the league), his contact improved significantly, leading to his average improving .016 points to a .273. This contact improvement has the potential to lead to a greater home run season this year.

His command over the ball also increased greatly over the offseason leading up to 2022, allowing his ERA to improve from the 2021 number of 3.18 to an absolutely stunning 2.33, while also pitching another 36 innings in the 2022 season (from 130.1 to 166). Not only that, his strikeout to walk ratio was strong in 2022, with 219 SOs to only 44 BBs. These stats all go to show one thing: Ohtani killed it in 2022, on both sides of the ball. With all of this improvement in a singular year from 2021 to 2022, one can only think that Shohei Ohtani’s trajectory will continue on to even more meteoric heights. Ohtani is poised for yet another record setting season this summer. He has made improvements in all the right places, building upon an already incredible foundation. With the added momentum of a great victory in the WBC for his home country of Japan, as well as his own performance throughout the tournament, he will have the wind in his sails as he comes into the 2023 season. Ohtani is about to show us again why he’s here, and I can’t wait to see him do it.


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