Shohei Me The Money!
Shohei Ohtani (LAA): 2-8, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
Thursday we only saw 5 baseball games played, and 2 of those were part of a doubleheader. A few other names could’ve made the top of this list, but what Shohei Ohtani accomplished yesterday was one of the more impressive performances in baseball history.
The Angels found themselves in Detroit for a doubleheader Thursday. In the first game, Ohtani pitched possibly the best game of his career firing 9 shutout innings. Pretty good, very good in fact, but he did go 0-5 so can confirm he’s a bum. The thing is, he then came back and played the second game of the doubleheader and hit two home runs. Since Ohtani makes it look effortless, I think we forget that this is extremely hard to do.
Babe Ruth always comes up when Ohtani is mentioned. Ruth pitched for 5 years racking up a ton of innings. Later in his career, he focused on just hitting. The era he played in as opposed to now is of course, different. I always hate the “he played against plumbers” excuse that many NBA greats have to deal with, namely Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlin. Times were different, maybe they did play against plumbers but that should not belittle their accomplishments. The same goes for Babe Ruth. The competition wasn’t as fierce in the 10s, 20s, and 30s, and no one was pumping 100 mph fastballs regularly. This shouldn’t diminish how great Babe Ruth was.
However, Ohtani is playing in this era of 100 mph fastballs, curveballs that would make a regular human rethink their life, and competition that is only getting better and younger. That’s why what he’s doing needs to be talked about in the same way we take about Ruth’s level of play in George’s heyday. This isn’t normal and that should excite everyone.
The Angels signaled they are going for a playoff spot by trading for Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo López, giving up two solid prospects in order to acquire them. I, for one, am ecstatic that they are cause there is a chance now that we get to see Ohtani on the biggest stage.
Let’s see how the other hitters did Thursday
Hunter Renfroe (LAA): 6-9, HR, 2 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI.
Mike Trout’s lookalike, Hunter Renfroe, had a fantastic day at the plate during the Angels double-header. Renfroe had 6 hits including a home run and 2 doubles; he was on the bases all day. With the Angels going for it, they need Renfroe now more than ever. He’s always been a great glove in the outfield but has proven to be up and down at the plate. He’s capable of getting hot and going on a streak. Let’s see it.
Jake Burger (CWS): 2-3, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB.
The delicious Jake Burger hit two bombs Thursday, one with an exit velo of 109 and the other with a velo of 102. What’s the old adage? When he hits them they stay hit? That applies here. Even though when writing it out it kind of makes no sense. He’s a name to keep an eye on for the trade deadline. The White Sox think they can compete next year so it won’t be a total fire sale. They need some pitching or else they’ll have a similar year in 2024 to 2023.
Andrew Knizner (STL): 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI.
Oh, Andrew Knizer. The amount of times I’ve signed Knizer as my backup catcher in OOTP is—well it’s high. I definitely have a soft spot for him. Thursday, Ian Happ accidentally hit Willson Contreras with his bat on his back swing and Contreras had to leave the game. After Miles Mikolas threw at Happ and got ejected (they hugged it out Miles, have a heart), Knizer came in and had maybe the best day of his career. I love seeing backup catchers shine. Days like that they won’t forget.
Taylor Ward (LAA): 2-8, 2 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI, BB.
Another part of the Angels/Tigers doubleheader, (notice how no Tigers made the list, ouch) Ward hit 2 home runs in the first game of the doubleheader and helped the Halos take the first game. Same with Renfroe, the Angels need Ward to show up down the stretch.
Christopher Morel (CHC): 3-4, 2B, 3 R, 2 RBI, BB.
I gotta say, I love that Christopher Morel sometimes rocks cat whisker eye black while playing. This has made him one of my favorite players. The Cubs and White Sox faced off Thursday in the battle for the Red Line. Has anyone used that? I think it works. The Cubs put up 10 runs and Morel was a big part of their offense. Bellinger needs a shout too cause he did go 3-5, all singles. That guy is hott with 2 t’s.
Mike Tauchman (CHC): 3-6, HR, R, 2 RBI.
Rockies and Yankees legend Mick Tauchman continues to put up numbers for the north siders hitting a home run and 2 singles during Thursday’s action. He is as solid as they come, a great option for a 4th outfielder on a team. He’s getting on base at a decent clip, .353. He’s never been much of a power bat, but he can definitely turn on a few.
Josh Naylor (CLE): 2-4, 2 2B, R, 3 RBI, BB.
Here’s another player I owe an apology to a la Ketel Marte. I had zero faith in Josh Naylor heading into the 2023 season. So far, he’s been one of the best hitters in the MLB. The Guardians are in a weak division so the NL Central crown is up for grabs. Naylor is a big reason they are even floating around .500. I’m certain this breakout season continues down the stretch.