Jon Heyman: Here's why Shohei Ohtani really is the Rookie of the Year

Miguel Andujar, Gleyber Torre and Joey Wendle are having years that impressive. But Shohei Ohtani is having a year that is truly special. Several suggested that I am “on crack” or even worse when I suggested I’d favor Ohtani for Rookie of the Year.

That’s a bit harsh, but I get it. Andujar (or either of the others) would be a fine choice. But neither they nor anyone else could have done what Ohtani has done, which in many ways is unprecedented.

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Consider, that Ohtani:

— Is the lone MLB player this season with multiple games of two home runs and a stolen base;

— Joined Jimmy Ryan with 15 home runs, eight stolen bases and three pitching appearances;

— Joined Babe Ruth as the only players with 15 home runs 50 innings in a single season;

— Joined Ruth as the only player with 10-plus home runs and four-plus wins in a season since 1900;

— Became the first player to start as a pitcher and non-pitcher within the first 10 games of the season since 1920 when Bullet Joe Bush (Red Sox) and Clarence Mitchell (Dodgers) did it;

— Became a rare player to be named Player of the Week in the week after having Tommy John surgery recommended (he’s the first Angels to receive two Player of the Week honors since Tim Salmon);

— Has a 162 OPS plus and 164 wRC plus, and the only four players who top him in both categories are MVP candidates J.D. Martinez, Mookie Betts, Alex Bregman, and teammate Mike Trout, as Drew Silva pointed out;

— Would lead all AL rookies (if he qualified) with a .373 on-base percentage, .593 slugging percentage and .966 OPS;

— Set the Angels record with 63 strikeouts through his first 10 starts;

— Became the third pitcher with 11-plus strikeouts in two of his first six starts, joining Karl Spooner and Kerry Wood;

— Held opponents to a .036 batting average against his splitter (2-for-55).


Andujar (and the others) have been fantastic. But consider that Andujar, who’s probably the favorite, has an .856 OPS. And Ohtani has a .966 OPS. And consider that while Andujar is a work in progress as a fielder, Ohtani is also a dynamic pitcher (when available).

Sure, it’s an advantage that Andujar didn’t get hurt or miss significant time. But I am not inconsistent here. I supported Gary Sanchez a couple years ago when he played only two months, but did so spectacularly.

Ohtani is not only spectacular, he is historic. In my book, that makes him the Rookie of the Year.

Jon Heyman is Fancred's baseball insider. He publishes his weekly Inside Baseball column each Thursday on the App and You can download the App here and interact with Jon by following him right here.