Shohei Ohtani is baseball’s best problem
Well, we believe in Speed Out, Bat Flips, Launch Angles, Home Steal, Overhanging Curveball, Big League Chew, Sausage Runs, and That Rules unwritten of all kinds is indulgent, overrated crap. We think Greg Maddux was a real wizard. We believe there should be a constitutional amendment protecting minor league baseball and that field framing is both an art and a science. We believe in the sweet spot, WARP not WAR, let you chase a closer two inning stoppage, and we believe love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good too.
welcome to The moonstroke.
Shohei Ohtani is baseball’s best problem
In Rogers and Hammerstein’s iconic musical, The sound of music, Maria is a nun clearly destined for a different life. Instead of doing her religious homework, she sings, dances and climbs all the mountains. Her sisters lament: “How do you solve a problem like Maria’s? How do you catch a cloud and fix it?
Occasionally, the song rings in my head when I watch Shohei Ohtani, a player in a class of his own.
More than Babe Ruth or any other player in Major League Baseball history, Ohtani is a true two-way player. He throws, hits and even plays the outfield on occasion.
Living in Ohtani’s time is a blessing. The only problem (to use a word from the song) with the greatness we are witnessing is that, like Maria, it sets him so apart from his fellow man. What he does on the mound and on the plate is second to none, so how do we compare?
That’s the enigma of this year’s American League MVP award debate. There must be one player more valuable than the others, but top contenders are so different. Is it Ohtani, who keeps doing what no one else can do, or is it Yankees star Aaron Judge, the towering slugger who’s about to break Roger Maris’ home run record?
Ohtani hit 34 homers and posted a 2.43 ERA over 25 starts, numbers even better than last year, when he won his first Silver Slugger and was unanimously voted the American League MVP. But Judge leads MLB with 122 runs scored, 59 home runs and 127 RBI, as well as on-base and slugging percentages, OPS, OPS+ and total bases. Two home runs would tie Maris, a third would set a new AL home run record.
Talk about an embarrassment of riches.
Every year that Ohtani is an excellent pitcher and hitter, the argument can and will be made that he is the MVP because he is the only man in the league who brings value to his team at both positions. But the other side of that argument is that he so blames any player who doesn’t throw and hit, which is an unfair standard. But if Ohtani is having an amazing season and doesn’t win the award because he’s too different from other players to compare to, then he gets punished for standing out from the crowd. It’s sort of a win-win and lose-lose situation.
MLB could still implement some kind of Shohei Ohtani award, but that would lose its meaning pretty quickly if he was the only one eligible.
How do you measure the only two-way player against everyone else? You really can’t.
But what a big unsolvable problem to have.
MLB’s next big fanbase is already here
From the brilliant, dueling minds behind Red Sox Nation and Yankees Universe, comes:
Dodgers Nebula: Not really a fan club, but a useful reminder of what the Dodgers have.
crusading cardinals: Do you have a few minutes to talk about our Lord and Savior Albert Pujols? Oh I understand. We were young once. Watch baseball with hits and errors and so on. But have you seen Ryan Helsley’s closer entry? Heck’s Bells, yeah. He’s pretty impressive, but you know who has the all-time record for saves? We’ll give you a guess.
Blue Jays Border Patrol: From Manitoba to London (not that one!), Blue Jays fans must band together to ensure that three or four rival players from each team don’t enter the country.
Tropicana Field Truthers: Sign up and your first 25 Rays tickets will be home. Free. OK, the first 30. The first 50? Come to the baseball game sometimes on purpose.
Royal roots: Wherever we go, whatever we do, we’re proud of the Kansas City Royals, through and oh look, the Chiefs game is on.
Mariners Marinaarmy: And every time we break our playoff drought, we’re going to reach out to the Red Sox nation, see how they’ve handled the destruction of their entire baseball identity. Maybe pink Mariners hats? Just a thought.
Guardians of the Galaxy: There are hundreds of raccoons in Cleveland, and they are NOT talking. But they scatter when you play “Slow Ride” at full volume.
Universe Mets: The Mets have a universe now. Uncle Steve demanded it.
Money Mike is sawn, not sawn to be 100% ATL for Atlanta Braves
There was a specific moment when everything changed for the better for the Atlanta Braves this season.
The reigning World Series champions have a bit of a wake-up call in La Vallée du Soleil. Amid the cacophony of Sal Licata vomiting into his microphone to prematurely say “sorry, it’s over,” it was only fitting that Michael Harris II decided he was a sawyer, not a sawyer.
Money Mike took over the starting center role that everyone and their brother thought would belong to Cristian Pache for the foreseeable future. The Stockbridge native decided he was going to be his generation’s Andruw Jones at center for the Braves instead.
The man never played an innings of Triple-A baseball, but he never felt the big league stage was too big for him. Along with Spencer Strider and fellow troublemaker Vaughn Grissom, these Braves rookies remind us all of the 2005 Baby Braves that featured Jeff Francoeur and Brian McCann.
With Harris closing in on a game of winning NL Rookie of the Year, unless Strider throws a hit and somehow gets past him, the Braves are in a fantastic position heading into October whether they win the NL East for the fifth year in a row or not.
As an ATLien myself, I know what kind of dynamic player translates onto the playing field here and into the hearts of the faithful in the southeast metropolis. You have to be good and you have to be arrogant. Dripping with swag, Harris is everything that makes Atlanta…ATL.
Where he’s different from, say, Trae Young, Josef Martinez and even outfield teammate Ronald Acuna Jr. is that he grew up here. The guy knows what’s going on. Winning in front of that crowd has a different impact when you watched games at The Ted, The Dome, or The Highlight Factory as a kid.
There will come a time in October when Atlanta will have to rely on their rookie feel at the plate or on the field, and this man will deliver! That’s who Money Mike is! He doesn’t care that you think he’s not supposed to be here. Well, he is, shamelessly. A real ATLien in his heart.
Either way, cooking always tastes better when the ingredients are local.
3 MLB Division stories you need to read
The Tigers have a front-office manager that everyone is raving about. Aaron Judge has Roger Maris in mind. And Framber Valdez is making his own story. Here are three stories from the MLB Division this week that you need to read.
Detroit Tigers: 3 reasons to be excited about hiring Scott Harris — The Tigers surprised everyone on Monday by announcing that they had hired Giants general manager Scott Harris to be their president of baseball operations. Immediately, the praise started pouring in from her colleagues and members of the media. At Motor City Bengals, Tyler Kotila explains why this should be exciting news for fans.
3 crazy accomplishments still within Aaron Judge’s reach during historic Yankees season – Aaron Judge hit two more homers on Sunday to bring his total to 59 for the season. He’s not a stone’s throw from Roger Maris’ AL record. But did you know that a Triple Crown is not yet outside the realm of possibility? Yanks Go Yard’s Thomas Carannante breaks down the jaw-dropping accomplishments Judge can still achieve this year.
Framber Valdez of the Astros launches a record 25 consecutive quality starts –Astros starter Framber Valdez set a single-season record when he surpassed the 24 quality starts Jacob deGrom had for the Mets in 2018. But there’s another record on the table: starts most consecutive quality games of all time. Tal’s Hill Climber’s Joe Fernandez details the elie company that Valdez just joined.