The 2021 MLB season is hardly two weeks old, but there’s a good chance no one hits a ball harder than Shohei Ohtani did Monday night.
The Los Angeles Angels two-way player — sporting a 1.109 OPS through his first 41 plate appearances this year — scalded a double off reliever Kansas City Royals reliever Scott Barlow to right field that one-hopped the wall and left the bat at 119 mph, according to MLB’s Statcast.
Two runs scored to give the Angels a 6-3 lead in the seventh inning, and Ohtani joined an exclusive list of players who have hit a ball that hard since Statcast began tracking in 2015. The 2018 American League Rookie of the Year is the first left-handed hitter to join the 119-mph-plus club. The others are:
- Aaron Judge (New York Yankees)
- Gary Sánchez (Yankees)
- Giancarlo Stanton (Yankees)
- Nelson Cruz (Minnesota Twins)
“It’s impressive,” manager Joe Maddon said, via MLB.com. “He’s an impressive athlete. And right now, he can’t feel any better about himself or have any more self-confidence.”
Ohtani’s second double of the night, which came in the ninth, wasn’t as hard-hit; it left the bat at 83.8 mph and had an expecting batting average of .050.
Ohtani, 26, is batting .333 and has seven extra-base hits (three homers, three doubles, two triples) with 11 RBI and 11 strikeouts to start the year. One of those homers included a 451-foot blast that came during his first start on the mound last Sunday.
The Angels skipped Ohtani in his rotation spot this past weekend as he deals with a blister that has nagged him since before the season began.
Ohtani threw a light bullpen earlier Monday but will have another, higher-intensity side session in the coming days that should provide a clearer picture of whether he can pitch through the blister, he said.
Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.