Shohei Ohtani turns up the heat for Angels to contend

Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani. (D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports)
Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani. (D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports) /

Shohei Ohtani’s statements after another missed postseason in Los Angeles make it clear the Angels need to start winning if they want to keep the superstar.

There is no doubt Shohei Ohtani is a once-in-a-generation talent. The fact that the Angels haven’t given him the chance to shine on the biggest stage in baseball is a problem.

For the fifth time since he made his MLB debut in 2018, Ohtani didn’t get to play in the postseason. And again, it was by no fault of his own.

The two-way star put in another MVP-level performance. In fact, a historic season from Aaron Judge is likely the only thing that will stop him from adding another MVP to his trophy case. The fact that it’s even a debate is a credit to Ohtani.

Speaking to reporters back home in Japan, Ohtani reflected on the campaign in a way that should put the Angels on notice.

Shohei Ohtani had a “negative impression” of the latest Angels season

“I have to say that August and September in particular felt longer to me than last year,” Ohtani said in Japanese via the Associated Press. “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 agreed to a $30 million deal for the 2023 season before he hits free agency in 2024. If the Angels have any hope of keeping him beyond that, he can’t be talking about having a negative impression of the 2023 season as well.

A player of Ohtani’s caliber should be competing for team achievements as well as individual honors. LA has already gotten lucky Mike Trout hasn’t skipped town after years of missing the playoffs.

The Angels have one year to get things right if they don’t want to watch Ohtani win things somewhere else.

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