The grandeur of Shohei Ohtani reached a historic level Tuesday, when he notched his 502nd strikeout.
When Ohtani struck out Houston Astros shortstop Jeremy Peña in the top of the second inning, the Los Angeles Angels' two-way star broke an 88-year record, passing the legendary Babe Ruth for the most strikeouts by a player with at least 100 career home runs.
With his 502nd career strikeout, Shohei Ohtani passed Babe Ruth (501 K) on the all-time strikeout list pic.twitter.com/Jv1pKUwVIY
— Brent Maguire (@bmags94) May 10, 2023
The key difference between Ruth and Ohtani, though, is that 100-plus home run mark. Ohtani is playing at an MVP level in 2023, with a .294/.362/.515 slash line, but he has a long way to go career-wise to catch the "Great Bambino" as a batter. He has 134 career home runs, while Ruth has 714 career home runs. Ohtani has played just six seasons so far in MLB, while Ruth played for 22 years from 1914 to 1935.
“It’s a great thing that I could pass [Ruth], but I felt like I could’ve struck out more hitters today,” Ohtani said after the game via an interpreter, per the Los Angeles Times. “It’s still a long season. It’s still early. I just want to stay healthy and end the season healthy.”
Ohtani, 28, struck out seven total batters in the 3-1 loss to the Astros, pushing his career total to 507, but he gave up three earned runs and six hits. As a batter, he went 0-for-3 against Houston.
Ohtani's future in Los Angeles remains one of the biggest questions of the 2023 season. He is headed toward free agency this offseason but could be a major trade target at the deadline if the Angels aren't confident in their postseason potential.
Los Angeles currently sits second in the AL West with a 20-17 record, two games back of the Texas Rangers and 3.5 games ahead of the Astros and Seattle Mariners. The Angels haven't made the postseason since 2014.