Shohei Ohtani is doing things we have never seen before on the baseball diamond. Ever. And this game has been played for an awfully long time. So comparing anyone to him is an ill-fated exercise, but given his performance this month and the accomplishments of Cubs icon Sammy Sosa during June 1998 en route to NL MVP honors, it felt like a good chance to demonstrate just how historic a performance we're all bearing witness to.
During the Home Run Chase in 1998, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Ken Griffey Jr. led a group of MLB players hitting the ball out of the yard at record paces. By the end of the season, it was all about Sosa and McGwire, with the latter edging out his NL Central rival, hitting 70 long balls to Sosa's 66.
But it was Sosa's month of June that really put him on the national radar that year. After hitting 13 home runs between April and May, the Cubs outfielder set the all-time MLB single-month record, sending 20 balls into the seats in the month of June - a mark that stands to this day.
In 121 plate appearances that month, Sosa batted .298/.331/.842 (1.173 OPS) with his 20 home runs, 40 RBI and a pair of doubles. At the All-Star Break, Sosa had 33 home runs and 81 RBI on the year - and he'd tack on the other half of his 66 in the second half.
Cubs: Sammy Sosa's June completely put to shame by Shohei Ohtani
But what if I told you Ohtani was within striking distance of those first half numbers? He entered action Saturday with 30 homers on the year, 67 RBI and a 1.070 OPS, a slight edge over Sosa's 1.051 mark in the first half of the 1998 season. How has he done it? Well, a monster month of June did him plenty of favors.
Last month, the Angels superstar put up a casual 1.444 OPS - seriously, the guy nearly batted .400 in the month and slugged nearly 1.000 - hitting 15 home runs and driving in 29, tacking on seven doubles and three triples for good measure. Oh, and let's not forget. He did all this while pitching every fifth day, making 5 starts and averaging 11 K/9 on the month.
For many Cubs fans, Sosa - and that 1998 season - will always hold a special place in our hearts. But as historic of a performance he put on that June, even that pales in comparison to what we're watching free agent-to-be Shohei Ohtani do right now. And that's saying something.