Shohei Ohtani Is the Greatest Baseball Player of All Time

There is no longer any doubt about it.
Chicago White Sox v Los Angeles Angels
Chicago White Sox v Los Angeles Angels / Harry How/GettyImages

On Tuesday night, baseball fans got the full Shohei Ohtani experience. The Los Angeles Angels superstar threw 6.1 innings, allowing one run on four hits while striking out 10 while going 3-for-3 at the plate with two solo home runs. At this point, five-plus seasons into his MLB career, I feel confident in saying Shohei Ohtani is the greatest baseball player of all time.

In the 147-year history of Major League Baseball we have simply never seen anyone do what Ohtani is doing. The man hits majestic 450-foot home runs, then goes out and hits triple digits with his fastball. Oh, did we mention he's also one of baseball's fastest players?

Now before you jump down my throat, let me clarify something: I'm not saying Ohtani will have the greatest career ever. That distinction will forever be argued between a few players -- Babe Ruth, Cy Young, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays and Walter Johnson among them. But when you consider talent and the things he can do on the field, Ohtani has no peers in baseball's long history.

The 28-year-old is MLB's only legitimate two-way player and he's dominating on the mound and at the plate. How dominant is he? Ohtani currently leads all of baseball in home runs (28), RBI (64), slugging percentage (.654), total bases (200), OPS (.1.039) and fWAR (5.0). There's no question he's the best hitter in baseball right now.

On the mound, Ohtani is 7-3 with a 3.02 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP and 127 strikeouts against 39 walks in 95.1 innings pitched. His strikeouts per nine rate of 12.0 is the best in the American League and only Spencer Strider (14.3) tops him MLB-wide. He's a true ace.

Still not convinced? Let's get all historical with this breakdown.

Ohtani struggled badly during the 2020 pandemic-shortened season following Tommy John surgery in late 2018. It was a situation no other player in baseball has ever had to deal with: playing full-time as a hitter while recovering from a pitching injury. That impacted him at the plate as he slashed .190/.291/.366 during that campaign. If you chart his career numbers since then, things start to look historic.

Since 2021, Ohtani has played in 391 games. In that time he's hitting .274 with an on-base percentage of .369 and a slugging percentage of .575. That's an OPS of .944. That OPS would tie him for 29th all-time with Ty Cobb. He'd be fourth among all active players. Only Mike Trout, Aaron Judge and Juan Soto rank higher. Want some names Ohtani ranks above? How about Willie Mays, Edgar Martinez, Vladimir Guerrero, David Ortiz, Chipper Jones, Alex Rodriguez, Hank Aaron, Tris Speaker and Frank Robinson, just to name a few.

Ohtani's slugging percentage is even more absurd. That .575 number would rank him 16th all-time, in a statistical dead heat with Rogers Hornsby (.577) and above Stan Musial, Mickey Mantle, Mays, Aaron, Frank Thomas, Guerrero, Ortiz and the rest.

Ohtani has only taken on a full pitching load in the past three seasons. He had 10 starts as a rookie in 2018, didn't pitch in 2019 due to the aforementioned Tommy John surgery and only made two starts in 2020. Since then he's been on the mound full-time and has posted outstanding numbers. He's 31-14 with a 2.78 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP and 502 strikeouts, against 127 walks in 391.2 innings.

Even if you include the years he didn't pitch full-time, Ohtani ranks third among active pitchers in ERA (2.97), fifth in WHIP (1.08) and first in K/9 rate (11.5). The numbers are astonishing.

Ohtani is 28 and is only in his sixth season but he's already 52nd in WAR (30.7) among all active players. He just passed Yu Darvish (30.3) who is in his 11th season and is about to jump over Trea Turner (30.8) who is in his ninth.

The scary part is, Ohtani may be getting better. There's no doubt he's having the best season of his career so far, particularly at the plate. He's set to obliterate his career-highs in home runs (46), RBI (100), batting average (.286), on-base percentage (.372), slugging percentage (.592) and OPS (.965). On the mound he's essentially matching what he did in 2022 when he went 15-9 with a 2.33 ERA, a 1.01 WHIP and 219 strikeouts in 166 inning.

When you look at all he's currently accomplishing there really is no argument against calling him the best ever. Maybe it won't last and maybe his career numbers will flatten out, but right now he's the best anyone has ever seen on a baseball diamond. Do yourself a favor and find a way to watch him as much as you can.