Ohtani's crushed some amazing HRs, but none like this

April 24th, 2024

WASHINGTON -- In his first couple of months with Los Angeles, has awed his new teammates and coaches with what he’s capable of achieving at the plate. For years, the Dodgers have admired Ohtani from afar, but now they get to experience it on a daily basis.

What has impressed everyone the most, however, is just how hard Ohtani hits the ball on a consistent basis. Ohtani took it to another level in the Dodgers’ 4-1 win over the Nationals on Tuesday night, launching a solo homer off right-hander Jacob Barnes in the ninth inning that had an exit velocity of 118.7 mph and a Statcast-projected distance of 450 feet.

“It looks like a cruise missile,” said Dodgers center fielder James Outman. “That was absurd. That was just absurd.”

The 118.7 mph exit velo is the hardest-hit home run by a Dodger since Statcast started tracking data in 2015. It was also the hardest-hit homer of Ohtani’s career and the 12th hardest by any player since ‘15.

The majestic drive was also the hardest-hit ball of the young season, surpassing a pair of 116.7 mph singles from Fernando Tatis Jr. and Giancarlo Stanton. It came two days after Ohtani passed Hideki Matsui for the most home runs by a Japanese-born MLB player.

Nationals right fielder Eddie Rosario didn’t even bother moving as he watched the ball hit the upper deck. Barnes knew the ball was long gone the moment he hung the slider. Neither had any time for any other reactions because the ball was in the seats faster than anybody could even explain what just happened.

“The farthest top-spin ball I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Dodgers third baseman Max Muncy. “To hit a ball in the upper deck with top spin is pretty impressive. It was definitely top spin. If he hit that with backspin, it’s out of the stadium for sure.”

It didn’t have to leave the stadium for Ohtani to continue to impress everyone around him. Even after a slow start at the plate, Ohtani is tied with Mookie Betts for the team lead with six homers. Ohtani also leads the club with a .364 batting average and a 1.107 OPS through 25 games.

Ohtani is one homer shy of tying manager Dave Roberts for the most in Dodgers history by a Japanese-born player. After his homer Sunday, Ohtani joked that he’s coming for his manager’s record. That appears to be coming as quickly as he got the ball into the seats Tuesday.

"It's kind of like Stanton or [Aaron] Judge,” Roberts said. “There's a few guys that can hit a ball like that. It was a top-spin liner that reached the second deck. There's not too many guys that can do that. Shohei, we've talked about controlling the strike zone. When he does that, it's hard to get him out."