Scioscia makes strong case for Ohtani as ROY

September 15th, 2018
Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani, of Japan, sits with manager Mike Scioscia before a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners in Anaheim, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)Chris Carlson/AP

ANAHEIM -- For Mike Scioscia, there's no question as to where should rank among this year's American League Rookie of the Year candidates.

"Number one," Scioscia said Friday. "I don't think I have to explain it. He's been incredible."

While the Yankees'  and  and the Rays' Joey Wendle also have cases for the honor, Scioscia said he believes the unprecedented nature of what Ohtani accomplished this season with the Angels should put him over the top. Earlier this month, the 24-year-old Japanese star joined Babe Ruth are the only players in MLB history to hit 15 home runs and pitch 50 innings in a single season.

"Although there are so many talented young players, I think that what Shohei did as a two-way player, coming to the Major Leagues has been special," Scioscia said. "He pitched. I don't know how many times Torres pitched this year. I'm just trying to put it in perspective."

Ohtani logged a 3.31 ERA with 63 strikeouts over 51 2/3 innings for the Angels before a damaged ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow ended his season as a pitcher.

While Ohtani is expected to undergo Tommy John surgery that will likely keep him off the mound until 2020, the injury has not prevented him from continuing to contribute as a hitter. The left-handed slugger entered Friday batting .294 with a .967 OPS, 19 home runs, 54 RBIs and nine stolen bases over 272 at-bats.

Speaking of hardware…

and were recognized by their teammates on Friday as the Angels' Pitcher of the Year and Most Valuable Player, respectively.

Heaney, who will receive the Nick Adenhart Award, has posted a 3.98 ERA over a team-high 165 innings this year in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery. While he opened the season on the disabled list after developing some elbow inflammation during Spring Training, he has not missed a start since making his season debut on April 13.

"If you look at Andrew over the course of his career and his time here, he's grown as a pitcher," Scioscia said. "He's a tremendous human being. Just looking at how much adversity he's faced in his career, to see him put together a year like he is now -- he probably won't get to 200 innings, but he's going to approach that marker. It's remarkable. I know he feels it's a great honor because he knows what Nick meant to us. He knows the what a great honor it is, and he respects that."

Trout, of course, is a perennial MVP candidate, not just on his team, but also in the AL. That hasn't changed this year, as he entered Friday batting .318 with an MLB-high 1.085 OPS, 33 home runs, 68 RBIs and 23 stolen bases.

"Mike is a very worthy winner," Scioscia said.

Worth noting

• Left-hander (left adductor strain) threw a 48-pitch simulated game in Arizona on Thursday and is expected to rejoin the team on Saturday. He will be evaluated by the Angels' medical staff to determine if he's ready to return to the rotation next week.

• The Angels announced Friday that they've reached the 3 million mark in ticket sales for the 16th consecutive season. The Yankees are the only other team to accomplish the feat every year since 2003.

• Adam Henrique, John Gibson, Hampus Lindholm, Brandon Montour and Josh Manson of the neighboring Anaheim Ducks visited Angel Stadium on Friday and took batting practice on the field. They also presented Ducks jerseys to Angels players, including Trout and Ohtani.