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MLB proposes 'Ohtani Rule' to universal DH to keep star's bat in games

MLB proposes 'Ohtani Rule' to universal DH to keep star's bat in games

After MLB and the MLB Players Association agreed to new rule tweaks when the two parties agreed to a new five-year collective bargaining agreement (CBA), one particular rule deserves attention: allowing pitchers to remain in the lineup after they have been replaced on the mound. The new rule, first reported by the New York Post, can’t be made official until MLB’s owners ratify the new CBA next week according to ESPN.

And so, the Ohtani Rule is established. 

The so-called Ohtani Rule is relative to the Universal DH rule that will come into place in 2022 with the National League (NL) finally accepting the position that has been used by the American League (AL) since 1973.

Under the previous rules if Ohtani was pitching but was removed in, say, the seventh inning he would not be allowed to stay and bat for those last remaining innings. Now in a nod to Ohtani’s greatness, that will change. Angels manager Joe Maddon will be able to keep Ohtani’s electric left-handed bat in the lineup without sacrificing another position.

“I’m hoping that happens,” Maddon said of the proposed changes during spring training in Arizona. “And the American League West is not.”

The Angels often faced a tricky situation during Ohtani’s starting pitching days last year, balancing the desire to keep his bat in the lineup while also not pushing him as a pitcher. 

Shohei Ohtani’s ascent to baseball greatness was one of the key storylines of the 2021 season culminating in his first American League MVP. His performance as a two-way star was the single greatest season since the heyday of Babe Ruth in the 1920s, as he posted a 9-2 record with a 3.18 ERA and 156 strikeouts over 130 innings on the mound, and 40 home runs, 100 RBI’s, .965 OPS at the plate.

What can we expect from Shohei Ohtani this year? Reports from spring training in Arizona suggest he could go one better. 

“I think he picked up where he left off last year,” Stassi said. “He put a lot of hard work in this offseason. He’s in a much better place going into this year. I think he has a better understanding of the two-way stuff and what he needs to do. He wants to increase his workload.”

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