Pretty much nothing has been able to slow Shohei Ohtani down at the plate this season: not a hand injury, not IL stints for every other Angels hitter at some point or another, certainly not opposing pitchers. On Wednesday night against the Rangers, not even the loss of his own batting helmet could keep the presumptive AL MVP from launching home run No. 42 deep into the Texas night:
Shohei Ohtani hit HR No. 42, and it's one I've never seen.— Jeff Fletcher (@JeffFletcherOCR) August 17, 2023
He lost his helmet during the swing and circled the bases helmet-less.
It's 1-0 Angels in the first. pic.twitter.com/NLkgalfliS
Ohtani proceeded to stroll the bases helmetless, perfect hair flapping in the wind.
Things haven’t gone according to plan since the Angels decided to hang on to Ohtani and go all the way in at the 2023 trade deadline, with a 3-11 record in August that’s dropped them below .500 and well off the pace in the AL Wild Card race. You can’t put that on Ohtani though, who hasn’t been able to contribute as much on the mound due to muscle issues in his pitching hand but is now just one off Matt Olson’s league-leading homer pace. He’s got an .885 OPS with three homers and four steals over the last two weeks, regularly doing stuff that would be jaw-dropping even if he weren’t also arguably the most unhittable pitcher on the planet. His power is unreal — if he gets the barrel on the ball, it’s going a long way, even if he can’t see it due to his helmet being in his eyes.