Sho me the awards, baby! Ohtani adds to mantelpiece

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

To almost no one's surprise, the Angels' two-way debutante superstar takes home the American League's Rookie of the Month Award for April.

Shohei Ohtani was dubbed a bust, written off by national and international reporters, after a dreadful spring training. And he was actually quite dreadful.

Ohtani didn't like that.

Nowadays, the showrunners may as well put Ohtani on "Dancing With The Stars: The Athletes" because no doubt he can do that too.

Clayton Kershaw, of the currently underwhelming Dodgers, said Ohtani was "a waste of time." Rubbing it in is fun for the likes of Kershaw.

Angels players generally don't win Rookie of the Month awards. The only other Halos to garner the honor since its inception were:

Robb Quinlan (July 2004), Matt Shoemaker (August 2014), and Andrew Heaney (July 2015).

Oh yes, and some fellow named Mike Trout won four Rookie of the Month awards consecutively in a devastating onslaught on the AL from May-August 2012.

Shohei Ohtani is floating among some big clouds. And April is definitely the best month to win Rookie of the Month -- it shows a player is busting out of the gate and means business.

So, what did Ohtani do to win this award, his second major AL award at the age of 23, in his first month in the big leagues?

Let's see, shall we?

The youngster and pitching/hitting phenom from Iwate Prefecture, Japan, played 16 games as the Angels' designated hitter. Let's see what the lefty-swinging slugger did in April:

Ohtani The Batsman took out his spite on pitchers (including really good ones, like Corey Kluber), by stepping into the batters box 44 times.

He delivered 15 base hits for a batting average of .341.

The Halo rookie batted for the cycle in April (one double, one triple, four home runs) and drove in 12 of his Angel teammates.

Need I remind you that many major leaguers never hit for the cycle in their career, let alone one month. Let that sink in.

The triple was probably the most exciting. Power was expected to be among Ohtani's virtues, speed wasn't quite as likely.

Yet at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Ohtani provided one of the highlights of the young season with one of the most exciting plays in baseball -- a bases-loaded triple.

Ohtani ripped a 96.7mph fastball from Royals reliever Brandon Maurer into the gap (exit velocity of 106mph) and he didn't stop running.

The 6-foot-4 Ohtani legged it from home into third (sliding) in an amazing 11.49 seconds according to Statcast.

A veteran sportswriter shook his head and laughed: "I've seen Carl Lewis fast. I know that cheetahs run fast. Ohtani was a least as fast as a polar bear on tundra."

"I've seen Carl Lewis fast. I know that cheetahs run fast. Ohtani was a least as fast as a polar bear on tundra."

-- Veteran sportswriter

He had the highest slugging percentage (.682) among AL rookies, was second in the league in bombs, and fourth in on-base percentage (.383).

This was positively Ruthian with the stick. One of which he kindly gave away to a cute young Cleveland Indians fan.

"I can't do this every time," Ohtani said. "I'll run out of bats." He smiled of course.

But there's another side to Ohtani, as we all well know. He pitches, too.

The righty thrower of flames made four starts for a typically beleaguered Angels staff, and although his ERA of 4.43 may not look great on the surface, it was marred by a start in which he left early with a blistered middle right finger.

Ohtani's first home start at the Big A was memorable in so many ways: He took a perfect game into the seventh inning. The Angels won 6-1, but Ohtani's mastery of the heavy hitting Oakland Athletics was ... well, masterful. He struck out 12, getting 24 swings and misses.

It was a picture perfect Sunday in Anaheim.

In the process, Ohtani joined Cooperstown hurler Juan Marichal and Steve Woodard as the only the third pitcher to punch out 12 batters in April.

He also became the second Angel to chalk up a 12 strikeout, one walk and just one hit in an outing.

The other Angel to do that? His name is Nolan Ryan, who did that in 1872. ...emmm, 1972. One keystroke off.

Sho-Time also erased two other names from the Angels' record books. By mowing down 26 batters who had the guts to stand in the face of Ohtani's 100-mph-plus heat, the Halos' Japanese hero blew past the marks of Bo Belinsky (1962) and Tim Fortugno (1992) for K's in his first four starts for the club.

Padres third baseman Christian Villanueva was the NL's Rookie of the Month for May. Max Scherzer of the Nationals and Sean Manaea of Oakland were the NL and AL Pitchers of the Month.

Player of the Month awards went to AJ Pollock of the streaking Diamondbacks in the NL, while the junior circuit's winner was Yankee shorstop Didi Gregorius -- although it could be reasonably argued that Ohtani had a better April than Didi.

But hey, Yankees gotta win something, right?

"I'm pumped for him, because I felt like he was getting a lot of negative attention in spring training, for no reason," Angels infielder Zack Cozart said. "He's trying to get accustomed to being here in general. And trying to be both. It's pretty incredible. But you can see the raw talent."

"In record time, he's taken control of my baseball consumption." -- Ben Lindbergh, The Ringer

Definitely an April to remember for Ohtani-san. An April that had ordinary fans becoming extraordinary; an April that saw fantasy leagues burst at the seams, and stat-heads salivate. Which is what Ben Lindbergh, columnist for The Ringer and host of the SABR go-to podcast Effectively Wild, did during Ohtani April.

"From a spectator perspective, Ohtani is irreplaceable," Lindbergh wrote. "In record time, he's taken control of my baseball consumption."

Back in olden times, when Ohtani's ancestors were part of the samurai class in Japan, "consumption" was a bad word in England. It meant that a person had a very nasty disease now known as tuberculosis.

Shohei Ohtani is a disease nobody who loves baseball can get sick of. He's your Angels designated hitter, batting fifth Wednesday, against the Baltimore Orioles.

Sho-Time. May the month of May be as memorable and mnemonic.

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