Shohei Ohtani hits the hardest home run of his MLB career

WASHINGTON — In his first months in Los Angeles, Shohei Ohtani has impressed his new teammates and coaches with what he can accomplish at the plate. For years, the Dodgers admired Ohtani from afar, but now they experience him every day.

What impressed everyone the most, however, was how hard Ohtani hit the ball consistently. Ohtani reached another level in the Dodgers’ 4-1 win over the Nationals on Tuesday night, launching a solo home run off right-hander Jacob Barnes in the ninth inning with an exit velocity of 118.7 mph and distance projected by Statcast 450 feet.

“It looks like a cruise missile,” Dodgers center fielder James Outman said. “It was absurd. It was simply absurd.

The 118.7 mph exit velocity is the hardest-hit home run by a Dodger since Statcast began tracking the data in 2015. It was also the hardest-hit home run of Ohtani’s career and the 12th hardest by any player since 15.

That majestic drive was also the hardest-hit ball of the young season, topping a pair of 116.7 mph singles from Fernando Tatis Jr. and Giancarlo Stanton. This occurred two days after Ohtani passed Hideki Matsui for the most home runs by an MLB player of Japanese descent.

Nationals right fielder Eddie Rosario didn’t even bother to move as he watched the ball hit the upper deck. Barnes knew the ball was long gone by the time he hooked the slider. Neither had time to react otherwise, as the ball was in the seats faster than anyone could even explain what had just happened.

“The longest spinning ball I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Dodgers third baseman Max Muncy. “Hitting a ball into the upper deck with full spin is pretty impressive. It was definitely a top spin. If he hits that with backspin, it’s out of the ballpark for sure.

There was no need to leave the stadium for Ohtani to continue impressing everyone around him. Even after a slow start at the plate, Ohtani is tied with Mookie Betts for the team lead with six home runs. Ohtani also leads the club with a .364 batting average and 1.107 OPS in 25 games.

Ohtani is one home run away from tying manager Dave Roberts for the most in Dodgers history by a player of Japanese descent. After his homer Sunday, Ohtani joked that he would come to break his manager’s record. It seemed to happen as soon as he put the ball in the seats on Tuesday.

“He’s kind of like Stanton or (Aaron) Judge,” Roberts said. “There are a few guys who can hit a ball like that. It was a top-spin liner that got to the second deck. There aren’t many guys who can do it. Shohei, we talked about controlling the strike zone when he does that, it’s hard to get him out.

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