Each year when MLB spring training rolls around, there seem to be a few players who preach about their offseason training programs. Articles and social media posts fly around left and right declaring how “X” player is now “in the best shape of (his) life.” Per recent reports, it appears that Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels has joined this group. But, Ohtani has taken a unique approach to this common story.
Los Angeles Angels dual threat Shohei Ohtani takes a data-driven approach to offseason training
Ohtani is already the most unique man in baseball. He’s the first MLB player since Babe Ruth to compete seriously as a pitcher and position player. The combination designated hitter and pitcher took the baseball world by storm when he made his major league debut back in 2018.
The 26-year-old went on to win the American League Rookie of the Year Award that season after posting an impressive .285/.361/.564 hitting line with 22 home runs while pitching to a 3.31 ERA in 10 starts. Ohtani then underwent Tommy John surgery in 2019, sidelining him from pitching duties. He continued to struggle in the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, which he refers to as “pathetic” by his own words.
In order to truly achieve his personal goals of “owning” his professional baseball career, Ohtani turned to an offseason regimen driven by data. According to Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, this process began with his diet.
“He regularly had blood drawn to find out which foods produced the best results and optimal recovery,” said Ardaya.
In addition to his dietary routine, Ohtani made slight changes to his normal offseason schedule. This included hitting against live pitching before heading to Los Angeles Angels’ spring training camp as well as moving up the start of his bullpen sessions.
Ohtani also took a trip to Driveline Baseball in Seattle, which is considered one of the premier player development centers in baseball. Driveline Baseball is also known for streamlining data into its player development programs. Notably, MLB superstars Trevor Bauer and Clayton Kershaw also work with the Driveline Baseball facility.
Ardaya’s recent article provides a lot more tangibility to Ohtani’s positive declarations about his offseason training. It’s not simply that the young phenom lost extra weight or is stronger than ever, but provides some hard data to back up these claims. His offseason is another example that in today’s MLB, data is king.