Since Shohei Ohtani made his major league debut in 2018, the comparisons to Babe Ruth have been unrelenting.
On Tuesday night, the Los Angeles Angels two-way pitcher/designated hitter passed The Babe — at least in the eyes of Major League Baseball.
Ohtani’s strikeout of Houston’s Jeremy Pena in the second inning at Anaheim, Calif., was the Japanese star’s 502nd career whiff on the mound. With Ruth’s career strikeout total at 501 — according MLB’s official statistics — Ohtani now is the all-time leader in strikeouts by a player with at least 100 career home runs.
Other outlets place Ruth’s pitching strikeout total at 488, but when Ohtani got his 500th career strikeout in his previous outing on May 3, MLB considered Ohtani to be the second member of the 500-K/100-HR club.
Ruth hit 714 career homers, while Ohtani has 134.
Ohtani was an instant smash in 2018 when he won American League Rookie of the Year after posting a .285/.361/.564 batting line with 22 home runs and 61 RBIs while also going 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA on the mound. However, he never hit in a game in which he started on the mound.
In 2021, Ohtani began hitting in the games he pitched. He was named AL MVP that season after going 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA and 156 strikeouts in 130 1/3 innings pitched and hitting 46 home runs, driving in 100 runs and compiling a .965 OPS.
Ohtani, 28, took the loss on Tuesday as the Angels fell 3-1. After yielding three runs in seven innings while fanning seven, he has an AL-leading 66 strikeouts on the mound to go with a 4-1 record and a 2.74 ERA.
–Field Level Media