Shohei Ohtani out for season: Ben Verlander discusses injury and looks back on historic 2023

Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani will miss the rest of the season with an oblique injury.

This saga took a turn last night when reporters noticed his locker was empty, but there was no information on why. The Angels have said nothing on the matter, leaving the baseball world to speculate. Today it was announced that he was dealing with an indirect issue and would miss the remainder of the campaign.

Here’s what I know about oblique injuries: They persist – and apparently that’s exactly what happened with this one. Maybe he could have tried to wait until everything felt perfect, but Ohtani is already 12 days away from playing games. It makes no sense at this point to push things and risk further injury at this point in the season, having already torn his right UCL.

With that in mind, I absolutely believe it is the right decision for him to sit out the remainder of the season, have his health fully evaluated, and evaluate what his recovery plan looks like. The obliques are really quite delicate and they keep lingering. Ohtani clearly did.

Ohtani is a real player. He obviously wanted to come back and whether anyone thinks it was the right or wrong decision for a team that won’t make the playoffs doesn’t really matter. He wanted to play. He wanted to continue this season offensively and post even better numbers. Unfortunately, that oblique injury just didn’t allow that to happen.

This is the right decision, especially because it allows him to resolve his arm problems sooner. But let’s look back at what he accomplished before the injuries took hold.

I think Ohtani will win his second MVP award this winter. If the arm injury hadn’t happened, we were about to have the greatest season ever. I said that in 2021 when it was absolutely the best season we’ve ever seen. And this season certainly delivered.

Ohtani was fantastic on the mound – he finished with 10 wins and a 3.14 ERA in 132 innings. But he did his best at the plate. He hit for a .304 batting average, smashed 44 home runs, stole 20 bases and produced 95 RBIs. He easily posted his highest batting average, on-base percentage (.412), and slugging percentage (.654) in a season. He hit 40 home runs and struck out 150 batters. No one else has ever done it; Ohtani just did it for the second year in a row.

I think he was the best offensive player in the American League this season. Now we can’t have this conversation without discussing Corey Seager and what he’s done this year for the Rangers, hitting .344 with 31 home runs this year. That’s ridiculous with the number of games he’s played (104 before Saturday’s game), but it also needs to be taken into account. Shohei will ultimately have played more games than Seager, and that needs to be taken into consideration.

Did Shohei Ohtani and Braves’ Ronald Acuña Jr. lock up AL and NL MVPs?

Did Shohei Ohtani and Braves' Ronald Acuña Jr. lock up AL and NL MVPs?

If Seager played a full season with a .340 average and 40+ home runs as a shortstop, it would be considered an all-time campaign. But Ohtani’s offensive impact was comparable and he maintained it for several games.

I think even without pitching, Ohtani is the AL MVP. But he threw a lot of pitches, and they were good. And that’s why, in my opinion, he’s absolutely the MVP of the American League.

I think there’s still a conversation to be had about the best offensive player in the league; the Hank Aaron Award. This would be Ohtani’s first, but it could be neck and neck between him and Seager.

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Closing Ohtani now is the right decision. He had one of the greatest seasons we have ever seen; Missing a few weeks late shouldn’t change who the AL MVP is this year.

I can’t wait to see Ohtani back on the field in 2024, wherever that may be. He will strengthen his trophy case with new equipment before choosing a destination.

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