Writer on Hubpages and Harvard School of Public Health Alumni
Shohei Ohtani is bigger for baseball than Babe Ruth. He might be bigger for American Sports than Michael Jordan.
Anyone who watches Shohei Ohtani is aware that they are watching a legend. The 26-year-old pitcher for the Los Angeles Angels is dominating baseball on the field and in the media. Off the field, he has an accessible personality, akin to Babe Ruth.
Ohtani is a superb marketing tool for MLB's efforts to make baseball more of a global sport. With Ohtani Baseball has gone global, which is good for the sport. Internationally, players are gravitating toward Ohtani in the same way that Americans gravitated toward Ruth in the 1910s. Indeed, for the international MLB audience, he is the modern-day Babe Ruth.
Ohtani made history by being the first player named to the All Star team as both a position player and a pitcher for the 2021 season. What makes Ohtani unique is a generational talent as both a hitter and a pitcher. Not only is he leading all league players in home runs, but he is also to 10 in strikeouts. Ruth was the only other player who displayed comparable talent as both a hitter and pitcher. However, unlike Ruth, Ontani has the potential to take baseball to international heights that Ruth and his peers have never achieved.
His ability to bring American sports to Asia goes above and beyond what any other American professional has managed to achieve. He has an opportunity to do something for his sport that Michael Jordan couldn't even do for basketball.
Asia is, without a doubt, the largest economic market MLB has ever encountered. Ohtani is MLB's entry point into that market. In Asia, baseball is more popular than basketball. Basketball, on the other hand, has a massive international following in Austria, Europe, and Africa.
What matters, however, is Ohtani's baseball abilities. We should remember, however, how talented Babe Ruth was when he was playing. Players when Ruth played faced other challenges and received less financial gain for their baseball talents.
In the 1910s, Ruth was one of baseball's most powerful left-handed pitchers. In six seasons he helped lift the Boston Red Sox to win three World Series titles. At one point, he led the American League with nine shutouts. His pitching against the Brooklyn Robbins(Dodgers) in the world series is still legendary.
Ruth is widely regarded as one of the most talented left-handed pitchers of all time. Ruth still holds the record for the highest career winning percentage by a left-handed pitcher. In his fourth season, he is also recognized for pitching a no-hitter.You could argue that Ruth is the most talented left-handed pitcher of all time, as well as the best home run hitter.
While with the Red Sox in 1918 Ruth led the American League in Home Runs. He would go to be the Home Run leader 12 times. And he became well-known for his hitting prowess.
Ruth had already led the American League in home runs four times by the time he was Ohtani's age. By age 23 he had previously led the American League in ERA, Shoutouts, and had 170 strikeouts in a season. Ruth’s play is still legendary 86 years after he retired. Ruth was a sensation even compared to his peers.
Other players have amassed career statistics comparable to Ruth's. However, Ohtani's dominance at age 26 is probably the only player comparable to Ruth's dominance at that age. Ruth placed second in the American League in home runs in 1933, when he was 38 years old.
Ohtani still has a long way to go before he should be compared to Ruth. However, this season he has led all major leagues in slugging percentage, home runs, and total bases. Still he has pitched 98 strikeouts in 2021. He is widely regarded as baseball's best pitcher and hitter.
Nonetheless, Ohtani is a baseball superstar. Unlike the Boston Red Sox, MLB will not make the error of trading or dismissing Ohtani for any reason. And he can have more of an economic impact on baseball than Ruth ever imagined. It'll be interesting to see how his career develops.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Michael Mannen
mosaicman from Tampa Bay, Fl on July 14, 2021:
Good article, excellent comparison.