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MLB Notes: Shohei Ohtani Thriving as the Leadoff Hitter

Since Dodgers teammate Mookie Betts broke his hand in mid-June, Shohei Ohtani has given the MLB team a big boost at the top of the batting lineup.



Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani smacks a leadoff home run in the first inning against the Chicago White Sox on June 25, 2024, at Guaranteed Rate Field in Chicago. (KYODO)

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MLB superstar Shohei Ohtani has made a seamless transition to leadoff hitter for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Penciled into the top spot in the batting order after teammate Mookie Betts broke his left hand while hitting against the Kansas City Royals on June 16, Ohtani has excelled, looking comfortable and confident. At the same time, he's tormenting opposing pitchers.

In his first eight games as Betts' replacement at leadoff hitter (through Tuesday, June 25), Ohtani went 13-for-31 (.429 batting average) with five home runs, three doubles and 14 RBIs. He also walked eight times in that span.

Ohtani sparked the Dodgers to a 4-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday, belting a leadoff homer to right-center on a 2-2 pitch from Chris Flexen in the first inning at Guaranteed Rate Field. It was Ohtani's National League-leading 24th homer. He also leads the NL in batting (.320).

The fan favorite, who batted second in the lineup before Betts was injured, also delivered a tiebreaking single in the fourth inning. 

Shohei Ohtani leads the National League in homers (24) and batting average (.320) through games of June 25. (Jonathan Hui/USA TODAY SPORTS)

Adding to his impressive power display in June (he's hit 10 homers this month), Ohtani drove in a run for the ninth consecutive game on Tuesday. He matched a team record last accomplished by Hall of Fame catcher Roy Campanella in 1955 when the franchise was based in Brooklyn, New York.

Ohtani deflected the credit, pointing to his team as the catalyst for his success as a hitter.

"Regardless of the RBI streak, I think it's really about the team creating the opportunities to be able to drive in the run," Ohtani said, according to MLB.com.

Shohei Ohtani (Jonathan Hui/USA TODAY SPORTS)

Insights on Ohtani's Ongoing Success as an MLB Player

After the NL West-leading Dodgers improved to 50-31 with a win on Tuesday, LA manager Dave Roberts commented on Ohtani's noteworthy performance as a hitter in recent games.

"He is obviously crazy talented, but people feed off of his eagerness to swing the bat," Roberts said, according to MLB.com

The manager added, "I think right now, he's just got the tunnel vision on having good at-bats. And that's why all these homers and runs batted in and runs scored, all these good things are happening."

Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman is also in awe of Ohtani's exceptional abilities as a player.

Freeman summed it up this way: "I think we've said everything we can since he's entered this league about what an amazing player he is. … Sometimes, you've just got to step back and just appreciate a player like this."

On Monday, Ohtani was named the NL Player of the Week for the second time this season. From June 17-23, he hit .458 with four homers, three doubles and 11 RBIs.

Continue reading the full story on SportsLook.


Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and X (formerly Twitter) @ed_odeven