Shohei Ohtani strikes out 10 in 7 innings, then plays RF

Quite a game. Not many pitchers get to hit in the #2 slot, but he’s not your average pitcher. He is leading the AL in homers!

(And as a pitcher, he has allowed only 11 hits in 26 innings. while striking out 40.)

He’s the most interesting player to come around in decades. One year in Japan (2016) he had an earned run average below 2.00 and an OPS above 1.000! The only pitcher I can remember who clearly could have been a star as an every day player was Don Newcombe, who led the NL in winning percentage one year with a 20-5 record while batting .359 with an OPS over 1.000.

Newcombe was never an every day outfielder in MLB because he was just too good on the mound. One year he won 27 games. Newk did, however, have one season with the Reds late in his career when he appeared in more games pinch-hitting than pitching, and batted over .300 for the season. Newcombe did end his professional career as an every day outfielder, but not in the USA. He did that by pulling a reverse Ohtani and migrating to Japan where he posted a very respectable .473 slugging average in his final pro season. To put that in perspective, Ernie Banks posted a .464 slugging average over his final 12 seasons, encompassing the 60s and 70s.


A statistical oddity: with the season almost a quarter over, middle reliever Heath Hembree of the Reds, who has never been an especially good pitcher, has not allowed a single hit. (OK, he’s only been in six games – but still!)

7 thoughts on “Shohei Ohtani strikes out 10 in 7 innings, then plays RF

  1. I have not looked closely at their box scores but when Otani pitches are the Angels using the DH to replace their weakest hitting position player in the batting order?

    1. They just don’t use a DH. The other night, when Ohtani moved to RF, the relief pitchers just got inserted into the right fielder’s spot in the batting order. They never actually came to bat. It never came down to that spot in the order, but if it had, a PH would have appeared.

      1. Would the rules allow them to move him from pitcher to DH, or can he only move to a position spot?

        1. Rule 5.11.1 “A hitter may be designated to bat for the starting pitcher and all subsequent pitchers.” In other words, the rule does not allow the pitcher to bat with a DH replacing a different position. If the pitcher bats, there is no DH from the beginning of the game.

          Since having the pitcher bat from the beginning of the game invalidates the DH, if he stays in the game after pitching, the relief pitcher goes into the batting order in place of the fielder who leaves.


          What if the game begins with a DH , but the pitcher later takes the field elsewhere?

          Rule 5.11.8 covers this – … “Once the game pitcher is switched from the mound to a position on defense, such move shall terminate the Designated Hitter role for that Club for the remainder of the game.” (In this instance, that would leave the relief pitcher hitting in the DH slot and the starting pitcher hitting in the slot of the replaced fielder.)

  2. Without looking it up, you’d have to guess that the last pitcher to lead the AL (or either league) in home runs would be Babe Ruth.

  3. I always thought Bob Gibson could be an everyday player. And could have played basketball as well.

    1. There’s no evidence to support that. Gibson was a decent hitter for a pitcher, but his lifetime OPS+ was 50 and he never had a season over 100. Among all major leaguers with 1000 or more at bats since WW2, he is the 41st WORST hitter.

      He does do slightly better than the three worst hitters to become major league regulars or semi-regulars since WW2:


      Ray Oyler .258/.251
      Mario Mendoza .245/.262
      Luis Gomez .261/.239
      Bob Gibson .243/.301

      None of the three were ever true regulars. None ever had enough plate appearances in a season to qualify for a batting title. (Not that they would have won one.) They were fringe players. Oyler, a purported defensive whiz at shortstop, was such a poor hitter that his manager started an outfielder at shortstop throughout the 1968 World Series – just to get Oyler out of the line up.

      So I guess Gibson could have been a fringe player if he could play shortstop like Ozzie, but that was probably his upper limit.

      In the cases of the pitchers who clearly could have been full-time players but never did, like Wes Ferrell, Micah Owings, Schoolboy Rowe and Newcombe (and some others), there is clear evidence of that in their records.

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