Shohei Ohtani Sets Sights on Consecutive Home Run King Title, Completes 70 Home Run Swing with Farewell to Ichihira | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Shohei Ohtani Sets Sights on Consecutive Home Run King Title, Completes 70 Home Run Swing with Farewell to Ichihira

From zero home runs in his first 40 at-bats to "the impact of 3 hits in 5 games", he is now poised for mass production...

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The shot he gave up on April 9. Ohtani’s characteristic is to bend over to create distance between his body and the ball when he swings. It is a sign of a slugger.

The shot, which went in the opposite direction and drew a high parabolic line, was the decisive factor in the awakening of the sleeping monster.

In his fourth at-bat against the Twins on April 9 (Japan time), Shohei Ohtani (29) of the Dodgers swung hard at an 86 mph (138 km/h) slider thrown by Jay Jackson (36), a former right-hander for the Hiroshima team. The white ball, which was hit at a 38-degree angle, reached the left field bleachers where the fans were waiting for it.

“Could the incident involving Ippei Mizuhara (39) have had an impact? Ohtani didn’t seem to find his groove from the opening game, with zero home runs in 40 at-bats. It’s typical for home run pace to be slow in the early spring, but with a record worst of eight consecutive games without a home run at the start, even the team executives were concerned. However, after hitting a massive first homer against the Giants on April 4th, he continued to hit home runs in the following games. From then on, he has been on fire, with a batting average of .500 and three home runs in five games. He’s finally entered a production mode.” (Sports Desk)


What’s the reason for his good form? Baseball commentator Takeshi Kobayakawa analyzes, “Mental composure is bringing about positive effects.”


“Of course, the betrayal by his close friend must have been a significant shock for Ohtani. But even before that, he signed a contract worth over 100 billion yen, the highest in sports history, and joined the Dodgers, one of the most popular teams in the Major Leagues. The expectations from those around him are extraordinary. Even for a mentally tough player like Ohtani, it’s difficult to deflect all that pressure.

Nevertheless, his own reported health issues seem to have been resolved, allowing him to finally play as he normally would. The tension from mental pressure has dissipated, resulting in fewer instances of stiffness or being jammed.”

Of course, it seems that Ohtani’s growth isn’t limited to just mental aspects. Many point out that this season, he experimented with a narrower stance than usual from the opening game, which led to increased power hitting once perfected.

“In fact, during last year’s home run title-winning month of June (with 15 home runs), he also adopted a narrower stance. By adopting a stance closer to a natural standing posture, his body relaxed, allowing for optimal power distribution at the moment of impact. This resulted in more accurate bat trajectory and increased swing speed. It was a case of ‘injury-inspired batting method’ where a stiff neck prevented him from exerting too much force on his body, leading to relaxation at the plate. While his production in July and August was anticipated due to fatigue from being a two-way player and injuries, he couldn’t extend his numbers as desired. This year, he’s been able to approach games with this hitting method since the early spring, and his body has become stronger through offseason training, leading to an increase in power hits to the opposite field, which serves as an indicator of his form. Seventy home runs in a season is not just a dream.” (Same source)


In the past few games, Ohtani has been using a cricket bat modified for baseball-style grip in batting practice and has been hitting consistently. This new addition, introduced to help him grasp the imaging in surface concept, assists in completing swings where the bat remains in the ball’s trajectory for a longer duration.

Ohtani has quickly recaptured the sensation of last year’s June, when he was at his best in hitting, and has further evolved his swing with a new weapon. Matters like the loss of his close friend seem irrelevant to him now. The awakened lion is now aiming to break the world record held by Barry Bonds (59), with 73 home runs in a season.

If he can hit home runs in the opposite direction, he will finally be able to get his engine going and become the homerun king for the second year in a row, a feat that is very realistic.

From the April 26, 2024 issue of FRIDAY

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