BALTIMORE — Shohei Ohtani has done it again.
The Angels’ two-way star was named as a pitcher for the All-Star team on Sunday, making it two years in a row that he’s been selected as a pitcher and position player for the All-Star Game.
Ohtani, who was selected as the American League’s starting DH for the July 19 game at Dodger Stadium, is the only player in baseball history to be an All-Star as a pitcher and hitter.
“It’s a huge honor and I would like to give it my best for all the people that voted and support me,” Ohtani said in a statement released by the Angels.
Angels manager Phil Nevin said it’s good for the sport to have Ohtani pitch and hit in the All-Star Game.
“I think it’s awesome,” Nevin said. “This game is about the big stage and everybody being able to see the best players in our game and he certainly he is on both sides of the ball. Seeing him get an inning on the mound and then watching him hit, I think that’s what all fans want to see.
“We get to see it every day. We kind of get spoiled. I know being on the West Coast, East Coast fans don’t get to see it too often. For them to be able to tune in and see both sides of Shohei is pretty special for everybody.”
There are two questions remaining about Ohtani’s participation in the events at Dodger Stadium.
Sometime in the next week, we will learn if Ohtani will compete in the Home Run Derby, as he did last year.
The day before the game, we will find out if Ohtani is going to be the starting pitcher, as he was last year.
All of this adds to the workload for Ohtani, who has played 84 of the Angels’ 87 games this season.
“I don’t ever worry about what he does,” Nevin said. “Everything will be regimented. I’m sure he’s already got his whole day planned out and how it’s going to work out for him. I don’t ever worry about the physical aspect of what Sho does. He lets me know if he’s ever tired. He lets me know if he needs to come out of a game. He’s pretty impressive with what he knows about his body.”
The Angels essentially removed all the playing time limitations on Ohtani before the 2021 season, putting him in charge of when he rested, and the results have been a season and a half like never seen before.
His performance in 2021 was good enough to make him the unanimous American League MVP, and this year he’s been slightly better as a pitcher and slightly worse as a hitter.
Ohtani is hitting .256 with 19 home runs and an .833 OPS. His selection over Houston’s Yordan Alvarez (1.058) as the starting DH is mostly a reflection of his popularity among fans. (Alvarez was placed on the injured list on Sunday anyway.)
Players voted for the pitchers, though, and there is little argument that Ohtani is among the most deserving starters in the league.
He has a 2.44 ERA in 81 innings, with 111 strikeouts and 20 walks. He has not allowed an earned run in his last four starts.
Tampa Bay Rays left-hander Shane McClanahan (1.73 ERA) and Houston Astros right-hander Justin Verlander (2.00) would also be prime candidates to start the game.
From a purely statistical perspective, each of them would be a more deserving starter than Ohtani.
However, last year there were also starters who were having better seasons than Ohtani, yet he was still selected as the starter because ultimately the game is an exhibition that is for the entertainment of the fans.
Also, it’s less complicated for Ohtani to prepare as a pitcher if he’s starting than if he would be asked to pitch in relief.
“I have not talked to anybody yet about when and where I’ll be playing in the All-Star Game,” Ohtani said. “I will come up with a plan once I find out more information.”
No other Angels players were picked, although it’s still possible either that outfielder Taylor Ward or left-hander Patrick Sandoval could make the team as an injury replacement in the next week.
Nevin moved Jonathan Villar out of the leadoff spot after a six-game trial. Villar was 5 for 24 with one walk, a .240 on-base percentage. Nevin returned to the lineup the Angels used for most of the season, Taylor Ward batting first, ahead of Mike Trout and Ohtani…
Brandon Marsh and Jared Walsh were both out of the lineup on Sunday, even though the Angels were facing a right-handed pitcher. Marsh had been in a 6-for-47 streak, including 20 strikeouts. Walsh had been 3-for-27 with 12 strikeouts.
Angels (RHP Noah Syndergaard, 5-7, 3.84) vs. Astros (TBD), Tuesday, 6:38 p.m., Bally Sports West, 830 AM