Yankees Hoy

The Babybombers and the Japanese Myth

By Héctor Aguilar

The fun about MLB preseason is all about new contracts. Who comes? Who goes? Where is this guy going to play? How much is he going to earn? This preseason, one -if not the most- attractive/sexy move was that of the Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani. His attractiveness was not just because of his mid-nineties fastball, or his 10-4 record with 1.86 ERA and 174Ks, all the fuss about was because the Nippon player does what no other baseball player had done since this guy people used to called “The Babe”; that´s hitting and pitching at the highest levels.

Spring training wasn’t a good omen for the Japanese sensation, his performance made people question about his possibilities to recreate what was done in Japan at a major league level. Baseball reporters and analyst were no shy at doubting about his abilities to hit against the stronger arms or face the scariest bats in MLB. But then the season started and BOY did he shut mouths.

Ohtani started the season and became a STAR. Hitting .289 with 6 HR, 20 RBI and .907 OPS in 114 at bats and with a 4-1 record, 3.10 ERA 61K/20BB; the Japanese went from spring training fiasco to Rookie of the Year/Silver bat/Cy Young/MVP faster than Dominic Torreto goes from 0 to 60 in his 1970 Dodge Supercharger R/T.

Ok, I’m exaggerating a little bit, but Ohtani was turning into one of those odd things that no one never gets to see, and if someone does no one believes it, and if someone believes no one talks about it…yeah I know, even I got a little lost in what I was trying to say, but it’s something like this…Imagine a Shenlong -yes, I’m a big DBZ fan- or El Chupacabra or an Unicorn, those mystical creatures that many can swear they existed, they even can show you some bones put together that makes you doubt of yourself beliefs. That’s Ohtani, some believe in him, or want to believe he is real, but looks like the “fake bones” are starting to show and the myth could die before is born.

To me, the problem is that doing both things in actual baseball is almost impossible. The sport has evolved in a way that players have very specific functions that require specialized workouts to fulfill their everyday activities. With pitchers’ managers getting more careful, it has come to the point where shout outs are a rare thing and NO-NOs -no hits no runs- are interrupted because the pitch count got too high. It’s a risky business to go beyond the pitch count share. Shohei Ohtani was trying to do something great but he got hurt in the process. I think Angels management will come to a sit down with him and make realize that he just can’t do both.

Angels GM to Ohtani: “Listen kid, we try it, you try it, but it’s not going to happen anymore. This is not the Pokémon league, this is MLB” **

Going from coast to coast, from pacific to Atlantic, from Anaheim to the little town people call New York -line stolen from Juan Vene- there was a 21-year-old preparing himself to his MLB debut. A young Venezuelan that came to the Bronx in a trade with Billy McKinney, Adam Warren and Rashad Crawford for Aroldis Chapman, a move that turned Brian Cashman into Dany Ocean -if you didn’t got the reference, you need to upgrade your movie game my friend-.

Gleyber Torres has been a sensation in pinstripes. Fans adore him, Yankees love him and all other teams want him, and it’s not just to his on the field abilities. The guy is charismatic, loveable, a real cute, despite being in his rookie season he makes it looks like if he were a Yankee veteran. When Cashman was questioned about a possible trade for Torres he said: “C´mon, I have to walk around this city”, the GLEYBERMANIA has arrive to the Bronx.

Now going from second to third, there is another young rising star who may not get all the attention Torres has, but he has won a spot in this stack line up, I’m talking about the Dominican Miguel “Papa” Andujar. The 23-year-old came straight from the farm system and he has done what it takes to win the Yankee fan hearts and respect, that’s hit, hit hard and hit when it counts, he is now leading the majors in extra bases among rookies. His only flaw coming up was his defensive skills, but it seems it was an unfounded fear, after his first 55 games in third base, he has .966 fielding percentage. The impact of Andujar has been such that Brandon Drury is rotting in the minors despite his numbers and his superior experience. The performance from Miguel probably puts Drury as a chip for trade.

This baby bombers are having a great start, with Gleyber on pace of getting in his first All Stars Game. If we add to their performance the fact that Ohtani is injured and we don’t know if he is pitching again this season -or ever-, I have no doubt that a back to back Rookie of the Year is coming to New York.

Sources of support: https://www.baseball-reference.com/

Images used are labeled for reused.

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Alfredo Alvarez
Alfre Alvarez, conocido como “El Cirujano del Béisbol”, creador del blog: “Con Las Bases Llenas” (https://conlasbasesllenas.com), escribe para 990 ESPN Deportes, Sports Made in USA, Empire Sports Media y la revista “Pisa y Corre”. Locutor y co-creador de Radiografía Deportiva, un programa radial deportivo en NMMiami.com y además creador y locutor de los podcast: “Con Las Bases Llenas” y “La Semana de los Bombarderos”.

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