The Major League Baseball season hasn’t even started yet and we already have what could be the worst Shohei Ohtani take of the year.
Last season, it was Stephen A. Smith’s baffling assertion that Ohtani can’t be the face of baseball.’ This year, it’s that he can’t be the sport’s best player – because he’s a pitcher.
During MLB Network’s High Heat with Chris “Mad Dog” Russo and Alanna Rizzo, the hosts assessed the recently released Top 100 Players List, which featured Ohtani at No. 1, and his Angels teammate Mike Trout second. And during the segment, Rizzo made the bizarre argument that “I don’t think Ohtani can be No. 1 because he is a pitcher.”
"I don't think Ohtani can be #1 (player in baseball) because he's a pitcher."
— MLB Errors (@mlberrors) April 4, 2022
For most people, Ohtani’s ability to hit and pitch at an elite level is the exact reason why he should be considered the No. 1 player in baseball.
Rizzo’s claim baffled Russo, who responded with nearly three full seconds of silence, which might as well be an eternity for the sports radio host nicknamed Mad Dog. Russo then broke his silence by seemingly agreeing with his co-host, saying “that’s another reason,” as Rizzo attempted to clarify that she knows Ohtani plays in the field as well.
Rizzo is obviously very aware that Ohtani is a two-way player, last season she even curiously pondered what Jacob deGrom would be if he had the same number of at-bats as the Angels superstar. So was Monday’s gaffe just a brief lapse? Or was Rizzo attempting to argue Ohtani receives too much praise because he’s a two-way player?
Arguing against Ohtani as the best player in baseball is a fair discussion in a league with Trout, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Juan Soto. But offering the reason that Ohtani, who mashed 46 homers last season, is not at the top of the sport because he’s a pitcher, was a next level blunder.