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Dusty Baker praises Shohei Ohtani ahead of weekend matchup

Dusty Baker and the Houston Astros are preparing for a weekend series against Shohei Ohtani and the Los Angeles Angels.

First up on the docket for the defending American League champs will be to take on Ohtani from the plate. The Cy Young candidate will take his brilliance to the bump in Houston Friday evening before moonlighting as a hitter on Saturday and Sunday.

In a contract year, Ohtani continues to prove himself as the best all-around baseball player in generations. Having passed Joe McCarthy for eighth on the all-time wins list for a manager Thursday, Baker took time out of his day to praise Ohtani ahead of Friday’s AL West matchup. He sounded like a starstruck kid.

“He (Ohtani) changed the rules. Anybody who changes the rules on anything has to be a great player. This guy, he can outrun a deer. He can throw a hundred miles an hour, hit a ball a mile,” Dusty Baker on Shohei Ohtani.

It’s hard not to come away feeling this way when watching the 28-year-old Ohtani play baseball. Comparisons in the modern game don’t hold much traction. What he’s able to do from both the plate and the mound is second-to-none. The great Babe Ruth doesn’t even compare.

Related: Updated Shohei Ohtani trade rumors

Shohei Ohtani will get paid as an all-time great

Shohei Ohtani
Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Last season saw Ohtani belt 34 homers while driving in 95 runs and posting an .875 OPS. On the mound, he pitched to a 15-9 record with a 2.33 ERA and 1.01 WHIP while striking out 219 batters in 166 innings.

This came after the Japanese sensation earned the American League MVP award with his two-way play back in 2021. He’s been just as good in 2023.

  • Shohei Ohtani stats (2023): .267 average, 15 HR, 38 RBI, .872 OPS, 5-1 record, 2.91 ERA, 0.95 WHIP

Fresh off leading Japan to a win over the United States in the World Baseball Classic, Ohtani is set to become a free agent after the 2023 MLB season. It’s led to some speculation that the Angels could trade him ahead of the in-season MLB trade deadline. Currently at 30-28 heading into Friday’s matchup, that likely isn’t in the cards.

What we do know is that Ohtani will earn a record-breaking contract from some team once free agency opens. Some estimations have the potential deal worth up to $600 million with one team being seen as the favorite to land him.

Either way, Dusty Baker and the Astros will get another first-hand view of what Shohei Ohtani brings to the table starting Friday.