Shohei Ohtani had a night to remember in his first pitching start of the 2021 season. Though it ended on a fluke play where multiple runs scored, there’s no question that, especially early on, the start brought all of the electricity that fans could have hoped for with the two-way star on the mound and at the plate.
It was clear we were in for a historic evening when the Angels’ lineup came out, confirming what manager Joe Maddon had alluded to all week: Ohtani was batting second during his first pitching start of the year. He became the first player to start both at pitcher and in the No. 2 spot in the order since Jack Dunleavy in 1903. The only other player to accomplish that since at least 1901? Watty Lee, in 1902.
Here’s a look at 7 amazing facts about Ohtani’s night in the Angels' 7-4 win over the White Sox at Angel Stadium.
1 -- In this game, Ohtani threw 101 mph and hit a homer at 115.2 mph that went 451 feet. Any of those numbers, individually, would be notable for a player in a game. But for the same player to do that in the same game? Unheard of. Indeed, it was just the 40th team game in the Statcast Era where there was both a 115+ mph batted ball and 100+ mph pitch thrown from any player on that team. According to research by MLB.com’s manager of research & development, Jason Bernard, Ohtani became the first player with a 110+ mph batted ball and a 100+ mph pitch in the same game tracked by Statcast (since 2015). There had been nine instances if we lower the exit velocity minimum to 105 mph instead: Noah Syndergaard (eight times) and Aroldis Chapman.
2 -- Prior to Ohtani on Sunday, only one pitcher had thrown a 100+ mph pitch and hit even a 100+ mph home run in the same game: Syndergaard, on May 27, 2015, May 11, 2016 (two 100 mph home runs), and Aug. 16, 2016.
3 -- Ohtani threw nine pitches at 100+ mph, the second-most by an Angels starter in a game in the pitch-tracking era (since 2008), trailing only Ervin Santana’s 10 on June 25, 2008. He’s now thrown 16 pitches at 100+ mph in his career. Santana, in that ‘08 start, is the only other Angels pitcher to reach 100 mph as a starter in that span.
4 -- He topped out at 101.1 mph, tying for the fastest pitch of his career. That’s also the fastest pitch thrown by a starter this season. It’s an even more impressive pitch velocity reading when you consider that Ohtani’s 115.2 mph homer is the hardest-hit long ball so far in 2021. Sure, we’re only four days into the season, but we’ve already seen many aces pitch and there have been plenty of home runs.
5 -- Given that Ohtani produced both the 101.1 mph pitch and 115.2 mph homer in the same game, leading all participants in the contest in each category, this was the 11th instance where the same pitcher had the hardest thrown pitch and the hardest hit batted ball in the same game since Statcast started tracking in 2015, according to Bernard. The last pitcher to do it was Syndergaard on May 29, 2019, with a 108.4 mph double and a 100.4 mph pitch.
6 -- Ohtani’s homer wasn’t just the fastest of the year -- it is also the hardest-hit batted ball by a pitcher tracked by Statcast, surpassing a 112.5 mph home run from Madison Bumgarner in 2017. It’s also the hardest-hit home run by an Angels player tracked by Statcast.
7 -- The Statcast implications are clear, but it’s worth noting there’s history here that goes back prior to ‘15. When he homered, Ohtani became the first American League starting pitcher to homer against an AL team since Roric Harrison on the final day of the 1972 season -- and the final regular-season day without a designated hitter in the junior circuit. He also became the first starting pitcher since at least 1901 with a home run batting first or second in a game.