The final act of Shohei Ohtani‘s time as an Angel could be upon us. With only 13 games left this season, the most exciting player will be hitting the open market. What’s more fascinating is how his second Tommy John surgery will play into the offseason plans of other teams. In other words, will a team want him to transition away from pitching and focus strictly on hitting? To clarify, there is nothing to say he won’t return to the mound in 2025. Furthermore, will he even leave the Los Angeles Angels?
— Rhett Bollinger (@RhettBollinger) September 19, 2023
Ohtani’s Final Act As An Angel
Ohtani’s Wild 2023 Season
Ahead of the 2023 season, Ohtani was playing for Team Japan in the World Baseball Classic. Striking out Mike Trout to win the championship for Japan set the stage for 2023 to be a grand season for Ohtani. By the same token, there was talk and hope that, finally, the Angels would end their lengthy playoff drought. Moreover, Ohtani’s looming free agency was a storyline that would follow him all season. Another was the idea of trading Ohtani if the Angels were to fall out of contention again. Unquestionably, the lights would be shining bright on Ohtani all season long.
To say Ohtani’s potential final act as an Angel was exciting is an understatement. His first-half line was .302/.387/.663 with a wRC+ of 177. In addition, he slugged 32 home runs in 89 games. That is to say, the AL home run record was in sight a year after being broken by Aaron Judge. Without a doubt, he was in line to win his second MVP in three seasons. Meanwhile, on the mound, Ohtani had a 3.14 ERA, a 1.o61 WHIP, and a 21.9 K-BB%. In other words, Ohtani was on pace to make history again. Be it as it may, he still played for the Angels, whose most formidable enemy might be the executive offices of the organization.
The last few weeks in Ohtani’s possible final days as Angel were interesting. In light of him needing a second Tommy John surgery in five years, he would exclusively hit the rest of the year. Of course, something terrible has to happen because he is an Angel. Ohtani pulled an oblique during batting practice before the Labor Day game against the Baltimore Orioles. After almost two weeks of waiting to see if the issue would fix itself, Ohtani finally landed on the IL. Regardless of him missing a month of the season, his final line is .304/.412/.654 with 44 home runs and 95 RBI. His numbers should yield him another AL MVP.
Ohtani’s Last Days In Anaheim
October 1 will likely be the last time Ohtani will be an Angel. It’s important to realize that in the previous three seasons, Ohtani has been on an incredibly impressive run. He has managed to stand out even among two other big-money talents, Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon. On the positive side, the ride has been fun to witness as a fan. If not for Judge last year, Ohtani could be looking at his third MVP in a row. Still, the two weeks of playing for Team Japan in the World Baseball Classic and winning the MVP there is a nice bonus.
Over the last three seasons, Ohtani has tallied a line of .277/.379/.585. His journey as an Angel has been nothing short of magical. Every expectation has been exceeded by a wide margin. Unfortunately, the Angels’ public relations department fumbled what was as harmless as him cleaning out his locker due to his upcoming elbow surgery. Undoubtedly, that was the lowest point of Ohtani’s Angels career. He certainly deserves better than the poorly run Angels can and did offer him in the six years they had him on the roster.
Photo Credit: Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports