Angels rookie sensation Shohei Ohtani is batting .321 with six home runs and a .619 slugging percentage through a mere 84 at-bats this season. That and his popularity worldwide has ignited a discussion: does the 23-year-old deserve a spot in the Home Run Derby during All-Star weekend?
Ohtani was the first to say probably not, despite the fact he won the Nippon Baseball League Home Run Derby in 2016.
“I don’t think I’m at that level yet,” Ohtani said Sunday, via ESPN. “I’m honored to be in that conversation.”
The pitcher/designated hitter is hitting a home run every 14 at-bats this season. That is the 14th highest rate in baseball, according to teamrankings.com.
His prodigious power also saw him smack a home run an estimated 519 feet in batting practice this weekend. It’s undeniable Ohtani has the power to compete in the derby, the only questions are: could he earn a spot in the competition with his batting practice power alone, and does he really deserve to be included if his numbers might not quite stack up because of his lack of at-bats?
However, after seeing Aaron Judge take over the baseball world during the 2017 All-Star Home Run Derby, it makes complete sense for MLB to include him in the proceedings.
If he is selected, manager Mike Scioscia won’t stand in his way.
“That’s a player’s decision,” Scioscia said. “I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of things that come into what a player decides, but it’s always been the prerogative of a player if he wants to participate in things like that.”
It will be an interesting conversation down the stretch. With the game in Washington D.C. this year, Bryce Harper may be included and Aaron Judge is likely to defend his title.
The star power for the event would be off the charts if Ohtani were involved.
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