Reporters covering the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s game against Detroit at Angels Stadium on Saturday (Aug. 16) noticed a strange sight. Shohei Ohtani’s (29, Los Angeles Angels) luggage was missing from the clubhouse at Angels Stadium.

It is not uncommon for away clubhouse lockers to be emptied of players who are not traveling with the team. However, a player’s locker at home is likely to remain there unless the player is sent down to the minors. Some players travel with only as much luggage as they need. But Ohtani was different. He had no luggage. It was as if he wasn’t coming back.

Everyone had a feeling. The general consensus was that Ohtani’s season would be over. Entering his third year as a full-time two-hitter, Ohtani was at the peak of his powers, only to be hampered by injury. On August 24, while pitching in Game 1 of a doubleheader against Cincinnati, Ohtani suffered a serious elbow ligament tear. Afterward, he focused solely on hitting, but left after five days of training with pain in his right side.

The injury was initially dismissed as a minor one, but as his absence lengthened, it began to look more serious. Ohtani tore a ligament in his elbow while pitching during the 2018 season and underwent ligament reconstruction surgery (Tommy John surgery). However, he was active as a hitter in 2019 while rehabbing his elbow and hasn’t missed much time since. It was rare for Ohtani to miss more than five games. Even this year, he continued to play despite suffering an elbow injury during the season.

As everyone expected, the Angels officially announced on Sunday that they had placed Ohtani on the 10-day disabled list (IL). The reason: a right oblique injury.

Along with the announcement, the Angels made another official announcement: “Ohtani will not play in the remainder of the season.” That means out for the season. The Angels still have 14 games left, but Ohtani’s season is over.

As a pitcher this year, Ohtani started 23 games and threw 132 innings, posting a 10-5 record with a 3.14 ERA and 167 strikeouts. However, a ligament injury prevented him from adding to his record. As a hitter, he peaked at 135 games with a .304 batting average, 44 home runs, 95 RBIs, 102 runs scored, 20 doubles, and a 1.066 OPS. However, a side injury prevented him from advancing further.

Based on what he’s accomplished so far, he’s a lock to win his second American League Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. That’s because he’s contributed evenly with both his pitching and hitting. Ohtani shocked the league in 2021, his first year as a full-fledged two-hitter, and was unanimously voted MVP. He finished second in MVP voting last year, behind Aaron Judge (New York Yankees), who set a historic home run pace.

But the more I list these accomplishments, the more disappointed I am with the Angels’ performance. Since signing with the Angels in 2018, Ohtani has shown flashes of brilliance, sometimes at the plate and sometimes with both pitches and bats, but it’s been overshadowed by the team’s lackluster performance. In fact, the Angels haven’t made the postseason in any of the six years Ohtani has been with the team. They haven’t even come seriously close.

When Ohtani announced his major league challenge ahead of the 2018 season, nearly every team scrambled to keep him. Presentations were made by presidents, general managers, and even some of the team’s biggest stars. In the end, it was the Angels who emerged victorious in this massive recruiting battle. The Angels were very supportive of Ohtani’s pitching and hitting, and laid out a grand blueprint for a World Series run with Mike Trout, the biggest star in baseball.

Ohtani liked what he saw, and passed on other big-name clubs like the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees in favor of the Angels. But the Angels weren’t a “winning team,” and the famed free agent had only been to the postseason once. Even with Ohtani and Trout together, the team didn’t improve, finishing in the .500s every year.

In 2018, the Angels finished fourth in the American League West with a .494 winning percentage, and in 2019, they were also fourth in the division with a .444 winning percentage. Even in 2020, a shortened season due to COVID-19, they were fourth with a .433 winning percentage, and in 2021, when Ohtani began his pitching and hitting duties in earnest, they were fourth with a .475 winning percentage. Last year, the team was third in the district with a 0.451 winning percentage due to Trout’s prolonged injury, and this year, when Ohtani had his breakout season, the team is still fourth with a 0.459 winning percentage.

It’s not like they didn’t invest at all. The team spent more than $200 million on Anthony Rendon when they needed to pay Trout, but Rendon and Trout were plagued by frequent injuries, leaving Ohtani to carry the team on his own. The starting rotation was always a problem. The bullpen was jagged, and the prospects who were supposed to represent the team were slow to develop. The money wasn’t there, but the team had made the wrong investments and lacked a long-term vision, and the owner was only thinking about selling the team. 굿모닝토토

The Angels have officially dropped several hints that they want to hold onto Ohtani. However, they never officially offered him a contract extension before his free agency. Six years later, Ohtani is a free agent. The Angels have wasted a historic talent in Ohtani, and six years of the historic duo of Troutani. The Angels may never get another chance like this again.

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