Sure, there's not any win-and-get-in drama on the day all Major League Baseball teams will play their 162nd game. But that doesn't mean there's nothing to watch for. The calendar still offers one final gift to close out the 2022 MLB regular season: an opportunity to watch Shohei Ohtani pitch and hit and do all of the magical things he does one final time.
Even though the Los Angeles Angels have been playing months of meaningless baseball and no record exists for Ohtani to chase in these final days, there should be no such thing as Ohtani fatigue. Perhaps the sea of first-player-to-accomplish-this-in-more-than-a-century nuggets that come with his every accomplishment over the past two seasons numbs the senses, but fight that instinct we must.
Because for all the Tungsten Arm O'Doyle games on his ledger, all the moments in which the Angels' mediocrity endeavors to diminish his single-handed brilliance, there is an incontrovertible truth about Ohtani: Every day, he makes the impossible a reality.
Words struggle to capture what Ohtani has done in 2022. Babe Ruth tried the two-way experiment, and in 1918 foreshadowed his switch to being a full-time hitter: "I don't think a man can pitch in his regular turn, and play every other game at some other position, and keep that pace year after year." Well, this marks the second consecutive year of Ohtani keeping that pace, and at 28 years old, he shows no signs of slowing. On the contrary, he's getting better.
He has redefined what a baseball player can be. He is more than the Giannis, Mahomes or Haaland of his craft. He is the unicorn of unicorns. And to truly appreciate him, do not simply take these words for it or worry about drowning in numbers. To tell the story of the most exciting, jaw-dropping player in modern professional sports, we ranked his 2022 achievements, starting with impressive and ending at unbelievable.
.275/.357/.524, 34 home runs, 94 RBIs, 11 stolen bases
Ohtani's batting line this season would have been worthy of an All-Star selection at designated hitter. Granted, his slugging percentage is down nearly 70 points from last season — leaguewide offense has dropped a quarter-run a game from last year — but he has nearly equaled his total bases and his strikeout rate dropped from 29.6% to 23.9%.
Only Ohtani score: 1 unicorn out of 10. There are still 10 hitters with higher weighted on-base averages than Ohtani, so while his work at the plate rates, it's not exactly unicorn material.
15-8, 2.35 ERA, 161 innings, 123 hits, 43 walks, 213 strikeouts, 14 home runs allowed
Starting every sixth day, Ohtani leads all of baseball in strikeout rate and has held hitters to a .207/.262/.321 line. In other words, he turns the average hitter who faces him into Jackie Bradley Jr. The only thing holding him back from being the best pitcher in the world might be the limits on the number of innings he throws.