Shohei Ohtani hit 12 home runs in June…Factors of “steadfast right shoulder” and “tight jaw” are the reasons why Shohei Ohtani is at his peak! | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Shohei Ohtani hit 12 home runs in June…Factors of “steadfast right shoulder” and “tight jaw” are the reasons why Shohei Ohtani is at his peak!

He is now hitting home runs at a pace of 50 per year! The Triple Crown is about to become a reality. The engine is running at full throttle to win the Triple Crown and become the world's No. 1 baseball player!

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Ohtani’s stance at bat after hitting No. 26. The chin is pulled back so far that it touches the right shoulder, indicating that he is looking at the ball until just before he swings. From this position, his right shoulder does not open and he swings through.

It was a month in which the “June Man” really came into his own.

Shohei Ohtani (29) hit a lot of pitches in June again this year, and he posted a .293 batting average, 12 home runs, 24 runs batted in, and an OPS of 1.110 for the month.

Shohei tends to peak in June every year. Last year, when he became the first Japanese ever to win the A League home run crown, he hit 15 home runs in the month. But last year, he was plagued by injuries as a pitcher and fatigue from playing two different sports, and he stalled out in the second half of the season. This season, he is concentrating on being a hitter, and since he says that his “physical condition is good,” there is a strong possibility that this good performance will last longer than last year. I am looking forward to seeing him hit around until the end of the season.

Ohtani currently ranks in the top five in the majors in batting average (.316), runs (62), home runs (26), hits (102), and OPS (1.034) (figures as of the end of June). This is a level not even the Yankees’ Aaron Judge (32), who leads the MLB with 31 home runs and is on pace for 58 home runs a year, has reached, and Otani is the only one standing on that level. Takahiro Toketsu, a professional baseball commentator, analyzes, “The reason for his strong performance is the position of his chin.

In April and May, when Ohtani’s home run count was not increasing, he was not able to identify the ball very well. His aggressiveness in going for the first pitch is appealing, but there were many cases where he struck out hard at pitches outside the strike zone, resulting in a mediocre outing. Now, however, Ohtani is able to pick and choose only the balls that he is good at.

The reason for this is the angle of his chin when he holds his stance. When his chin is pointing up, his eye line is also raised, so he perceives high ball pitches as strikes. However, when the chin is tightened and turned down, it becomes possible to discern high balls and it becomes easier to deal with low balls. The current Ohtani has a stance with his jaw tightened.”

The jaw pulled back stance reminds me of Yankees alumnus Hideki Matsui (50). It is true that the position of the chin is a prerequisite for a slugger. However, if the swing is shaky, it is useless. However, Otani now has a perfect swing thanks to his “steadfast right shoulder.

Compared to the early part of the season, he is clearly getting fewer ground balls to first base. This means that there are fewer at-bats where his body is open and he hooks the ball. The key point is the position of the right shoulder. In June, Ohtani did not open his right shoulder at all during his swing and hit long balls at wide angles. He swung with a beautiful trajectory, just like Ichiro (50) in his prime.

A stance like Matsui’s and a swing like Ichiro’s. With a stance like Matsui’s and a swing like Ichiro’s, Otani aims to become the first MLB player in 12 years to win the Triple Crown this season.

If he becomes the first player in the majors to hit 50 homers, it would be the first time in 68 years that he has done so.

From the July 19, 2024 issue of FRIDAY


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