I said before the season that Shohei Ohtani was the most interesting man in baseball. He’s not the best or the most important, but no other player can come close to doing the things he does simultaneously. Tonight, as he became the first pitcher in 118 years to bat second in the lineup, he showed the singular mix of ungodly skills that prove that statement to be correct.
Ohtani did this in the first inning, arguably the coolest inning any baseball player has ever had.
Shohei Ohtani had a solid first inning on the bump, even if you didn’t know about the super-awesome thing he did. He allowed no runs on no hits and one walk, striking out one and inducing two groundouts. That super-awesome thing he did? That was uncorking the fastest-thrown pitch by a starter this season, a 100.6 MPH heater to Adam Eaton. It was even accompanied by a Max Scherzer-like grunt, for added effect.
Eaton fouled it off, impressively. He’s a .282 hitter across ten big league seasons, after all; he knows how to spoil a 100.6 MPH fastball. The next pitch made him look like a middle schooler, though. Ohtani followed up his triple-digit heat with a 92 MPH splitter that disappeared out of the zone, causing Eaton to flail at it helplessly for the K. Nasty. Na-sty.
After Jose Abreu walked and Yoan Moncada grounded out, it was time for Ohtani to hit.
Shohei Ohtani wasted precisely no time at the plate against Dylan Cease. Fresh off his inning on the mound in which he claimed the current title as the hardest-throwing starter in baseball, Ohtani decided to add another title to his 2021 résumé: hardest home run-hitter.
Cease threw a 97 MPH first-pitch fastball at the very top of the zone to Ohtani. This is not a bad pitch. This pitch is either taken, missed, fouled off, or popped up most of the time. It is incredibly difficult to get on top of it. It’s a classic pitcher’s pitch, something they often throw with two strikes to go for the strikeout. Ohtani liked what he saw, apparently, as he demolished it 450 feet to right-center for a home run that left his bat at 115.2 MPH. This is the hardest-hit home run so far in 2021.
The Skills Champ
Shohei Ohtani accomplished both of these feats in a matter of 10 minutes. Hardest-thrown pitch. Hardest-hit home run. In one inning. By the same guy. Who else has ever done that? If there was a Skills Challenge in MLB like they have in the NBA, Ohtani would win by forfeit. Who can come close to doing this sort of thing? No one, that’s who.
The most interest man in baseball had the coolest inning ever tonight.