MLB Network host Brian Kenny argued on Tuesday that two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani should no longer pull double duty for the Los Angeles Angels, and that the organization should convert him to a full-time hitter.
But former major league pitcher and outfielder Rick Ankiel doesn't agree with Kenny's take on Ohtani. He hopes that the Angels allow the 27-year-old superstar to continue making history on the mound and at the plate.
"I think he can keep it up as long as he wants," Ankiel told the Tiki and Tierney show on Thursday. "He's in the American League, which has the designated hitter. And moving forward, the DH is going to be universal, anyway. On top of that, I think Joe Maddon, his manager, is the guy to kind of figure out the recipe of, how much do we use him in the field, how much does he DH, and how much does he pitch. But honestly, the kid's an animal. The talent is through the roof...
"Some of the pitches that he can get to as a left-hander are incredible. You look at the balls at the top of the zone, he's doing stuff that is kind of Barry Bonds-esque, in a way, when you watch it. But his stuff on the mound, he's throwing 100 [mph], the split-finger is off the chain. I just think for baseball and the healthiness of the game, it's such a great thing for a young kid to be able to look up and see him doing it both ways."
Ohtani, who recently became the first player to make an All-Star Game roster as both a hitter and pitcher, is slashing .279/.364/.700 with a league-leading 32 home runs, 54 extra-base hits, and 5.6 WAR. He's also the first player in AL history to reach 30 homers and 10 stole bases in his team's first 81 games of the season, per Stats by STATS.
As if his offensive numbers aren't impressive enough, Ohtani will head into the All-Star break with a 3.49 ERA and 87 strikeouts across 13 starts (67 innings). In his final first-half start -- which occurred just a few hours after Kenny made his argument on TV -- Ohtani completed seven innings of two-run ball against the Boston Red Sox. He also went 1-for-4 at the plate with an RBI double.
"I've always been an advocate that [pitching and hitting] can be done at the same time," Ankiel said. "I did both, but not at the same time. But in preparing and understanding what it takes to do both -- and as I mentioned, he's DH-ing most of the time and not playing in the field -- I'm going to continue to let him do both. He's just too talented to not, for me."
On Wednesday against Boston, Ohtani surpassed Hideki Matsui for the most home runs hit by a Japanese-born player in a single season. He plans to participate in the Home Run Derby at Coors Field on July 12, one day before playing in the Midsummer Classic on July 13.
The entire MLB conversation between Ankiel and Tiki and Tierney can be accessed in the audio player above.