Shohei Ohtani made more baseball history Sunday when he was named to the American League All-Star team as a pitcher. He is the first player to be an All-Star hitter and pitcher simultaneously. The first All-Star Game was played in 1933.
The hitting honor was richly deserved. He’s one of the best offensive players in the game as the Angels’ regular designated hitter. The pitching designation could be debated because of the depth of starting pitching candidates and his less-than-spectacular numbers.
SN answers the big questions about Ohtani’s All-Star credentials and whether he would be able to take the mound on July 13:
ALL-STAR ROSTERS: Starters | Reserves
What are Shohei Ohtani’s hitting and pitching stats in 2021?
Through games of July 4, Ohtani had hit 31 home runs (most in the majors), driven in 67 runs (third-most in MLB) and compiled a 1.070 OPS (third-highest in MLB).
His 31st homer, hit Sunday against the Orioles, tied him with Hideki Matsui (2004, Yankees) for most home runs by a Japanese-born player in MLB.
His pitching statistics were good, but not great: a 3.60 ERA (3.74 FIP) and 83 strikeouts in 60 innings (12.5 strikeouts per nine innings). The ERA took a beating when he was charged with seven earned runs in two-thirds of an inning against the Yankees on June 30.
It’s fair to ask whether his uniqueness as a two-way player influenced the players who voted on All-Star reserves, or MLB, which determined the final roster spots in each league.
Will Shohei Ohtani be able to pitch in the All-Star Game?
The schedule will allow it, at least. He is set up to start Tuesday against the Red Sox, and that will be his last start before the break. The Angels have an off-day Thursday, so they’ll need just four more starters after Ohtani this week. Ohtani would be pitching on six days’ rest if he takes the mound in the All-Star Game.
As for whether the Angels would allow it, manager Joe Maddon was receptive.
“The maximum participation of Shohei within limits to me is the right thing to do,” Maddon said Friday, per The Associated Press. “What else could you possibly want? We have to do it in a manner that is not going to be destructive in some way.”
When would Shohei Ohtani pitch in the All-Star Game?
Probably in the early innings. He was voted the American League’s starting DH. It would follow that he would take the mound in, say, the bottom of the third or fourth inning after he gets an at-bat or two.
One complication is that MLB rules state a team loses the DH for the remainder of the game if the DH or a position player takes the mound. The All-Star Game is a true exhibition again, so what’s to stop MLB from giving the AL the DH back after Ohtani leaves the game?
“In order to have him both pitch and hit, you have to relax a bit, the DH rule. I think they’re prepared to do those kinds of things,” Maddon said Friday.
It’s doubtful that AL manager Kevin Cash would move Ohtani from DH to the outfield and then bring him in to pitch in the middle or late innings. Oh, yeah, Ohtani can also play the outfield. He did it a lot in Japan and he made his MLB debut there this year. He has made five appearances in the outfield with the Angels.