Shohei Ohtani (29, Los Angeles Angels) has taken the major leagues by storm since becoming a full-fledged pitcher and hitter in 2021, and he continues to improve as a pitcher. Last year, he was recognized for his performance by finishing fourth in the American League Cy Young Award voting.
He’s had some ups and downs, but his start this season hasn’t been too bad either. In his first 11 starts this season, Ohtani is 5-1 with a 2.91 ERA. While his ERA is higher than last year’s (2.33), his batting average is actually lower than last year’s (.203) at .155, which is among the best in the league. Additionally, his strikeout rate has improved from 33.2% last year to 35% this year. That’s 90 strikeouts in 65 innings.
This year in particular, he’s become more of a pitcher than a hitter, thanks to a pitch that’s been taking the major leagues by storm lately: the sweeper. The sweeper, which has a large lateral curve, has become Ohtani’s signature pitch this season. Last year, he threw it 37.4% of the time, but this year, he threw it 42.6% of the time. The sweeper has a batting average of 0.143 and a 39% swinging strike rate. Locally, Ohtani’s sweeper is considered one of the hardest pitches to hit.
However, the panel’s analysis showed that Ohtani is not the best starting pitcher in the major leagues. Fifteen experts from MLB.com, the official website of Major League Baseball, voted to rank the best starting pitchers as of Aug. 2, and Ohtani was tied for 10th, just outside the top 10.
He was even outside the top 10 in the last rankings. Ohtani is a monster, but it’s proof that there are worse monsters in the majors. As MLB.com put it, “We couldn’t keep Ohtani out of the power rankings for long. He fell out of the last rankings, but he had a string of quality starts to close out May,” but they didn’t allow him to be ranked higher.
So who are the experts’ top starting pitchers right now? The No. 1 spot on the list is Tampa Bay’s left-handed ace, Shane McClellanahan, 26. He jumped vertically from No. 7 in our last rankings to No. 1. In 12 games this season, McClanahan is 8-1 with a 2.07 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 69⅔ innings pitched. He’s a rare starter who throws a variety of pitches, all of which are highly complete. He is leading the American League Cy Young Award race this year.
In second place is Atlanta’s new ace, right-hander Spencer Strider, 25, who is leading the National League Cy Young Award race. Strider is 5-2 with a 2.97 ERA in 11 starts this season and is on pace to reach the 100-strikeout plateau faster than any other player in the league. It’s hard to believe that he’s in his third year in the majors and second full-time season. Strider was the No. 2 pitcher in the last rankings, and he remains so in this one. 메이저놀이터
Sonny Gray (Minnesota) holds onto the No. 3 spot, while Nathan Ivoldi (Texas) leaps from No. 9 to No. 4. This is likely due to his recent strong relay performances. He is followed by Frelton Valdes (Houston), Luis Castillo (Seattle), Bryce Elder (Atlanta), Marcus Stroman (Chicago Cubs), and Joe Ryan (Minnesota). Valdez, Castillo, Elder, and Stroman were not in the previous rankings and have been recognized for their recent consistency.
Zack Gallen (Arizona), who was No. 1 in the last rankings, dropped to No. 10 along with Ohtani after a big outing against Pittsburgh on May 20, giving up eight runs (five earned) in 3⅔ innings. Of course, these rankings are influenced by each pitcher’s outing, so they could change dramatically by the time the next rankings are released.