Friday, March 24, 2023

Shohei Ohtani left with ‘negative impression’ from Angels, but recognizes his own ‘good’ season

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Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani had a “rather negative impression of this season,” he told reporters Tuesday shortly after arriving at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, according to Koji Ueda of the Associated Press.

Ohtani, who said it was a “good season for me personally,” explained that the year seemed to drag on near the end because of how poorly the Angels played as a team. Los Angeles finished the season with a 73-89 record, placing them 33 games out of first place in the American League West. The Angels played horribly for a three-month stretch, May through August, winning just 30 of their 81 games, or a pace that would prorate to 60 victories over the course of a regulation-length season.

Ohtani, for his part, was again one of the most productive players in the sport. Though he may lose out on the AL Most Valuable Player Award to New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge, he hit for a 145 OPS+ and pitched for a 172 ERA+. He also contributed nearly 10 Wins Above Replacement combined, per Baseball Reference’s estimates. 

“I have to say that August and September in particular felt longer to me than last year,” Ohtani told reporters, including Ueda. “We were not able to play as many good games as we would like —  including 14 consecutive losses. So I have a rather negative impression of this season.”

Ohtani’s comments are notable, as they’re a reinforcement of his desire to win at a team level. That could prove to be problematic for the Angels’ attempts to sign him to a long-term extension before he qualifies for free agency following next season. Indeed, that’s why several rival front office members who have spoken to CBS Sports over the past few months believe Ohtani could be traded this winter. (It should be noted that the Angels discussed Ohtani in trades ahead of the deadline.)

Despite employing two of the best players in the sport, in Ohtani and Mike Trout, the Angels have failed time and again to make the postseason. To wit, the Angels have not won more than 80 games in a season since Ohtani joined the organization prior to the 2018 campaign. Conversely, they’ve lost 85 games or more in three of the last four seasons, the exception being the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. The Angels won 43 percent of their games that year, putting them on pace for 92 losses. 

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