Angels' Shohei Ohtani has returned to Rookie of the Year form and everything else we learned this week in MLB

We'll be taking a look at the most interesting takeaways every week this MLB season so check back every Sunday for our recap. Now, here's what we learned from Week 12 in MLB:


Ohtani's power at the plate is back

Shohei Ohtani, the two-way sensation who won last year's American League Rookie of the Year award, has already returned to his ROY season form at the plate. Ohtani underwent Tommy John Surgery last October and the Angels announced that he would be re-joining the team this season as a hitter while he continued rehabbing his pitching arm. Ohtani, 24, first returned to the Angels lineup on May 7 and after a slow start, he's been able to regain and maintain his power at the plate. 

In 33 games as designated hitter, Ohtani is slashing .271/.342/.488 with eight home runs and 27 RBI. This past week, he became the first Japanese-born player to hit for the cycle. It was just the 32nd cycle in MLB with only four plate appearances, and when he homered to contribute to his cycle, it marked the fourth time in his career that Ohtani had homered in consecutive games. Ohtani's break from pitching hasn't stopped him from making history, and his recent offensive performances may just become the norm for this superstar.

Braves are the team to beat in NL East

Before the season began, it was thought that the National League East would be one of the most competitive divisions in baseball with four preseason contenders. Well, the Nationals and Mets quickly fell to the wayside and the Marlins continued their rebuild. So that leaves us with the Braves and Phillies battling it out for the top spot in the division. During this past week's stretch of games, the Braves had their longest winning streak of the season (eight games) and pulled away from Philly for first-place. 

The Braves offense is one of the best in baseball right now. Entering Sunday, their team average of .262 is the sixth-best in MLB, and the team ranks in the top 10 for all the other basic offensive statistics. From top to bottom, the Braves lineup is productive and the team -- made up of a nice balance of veterans and youngsters -- always manages to stay in games. Plus, the team's rotation will get a boost once newly signed starter and former Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel is ready to make his 2019 debut. The Braves, the reigning NL East champions, are proving that they're the team to beat in the NL East once again.

Buehler is a fixture in Dodgers elite rotation

Dodgers starter Walker Buehler began the 2019 looking a little rusty on the mound, giving up 10 earned runs in his first three starts. But he's since bounced back from his slow start, and now his recent dominance (0 ER, 15 K in last 14 IP) has shown us that Buehler will be a crucial part of the Dodgers rotation now and again during their likely postseason run. Buehler, 24, is part of a Dodgers rotation that currently includes Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Kenta Maeda and Rich Hill. Entering Sunday, the Dodgers pitching staff's 3.30 ERA is the second-best ERA in baseball, behind the Tampa Bay Rays' 3.01 ERA. 

Entering Sunday, Buehler ranked third in the National League in wins (seven), third in WHIP (0.92), and ninth in ERA (3.06). Buehler is 7-1, he's lowered his ERA to 3.06 and he has a 6.46 K:BB ratio. In his three starts so far in June, Buehler is 2-0 with a 0.41 ERA and 26 strikeouts against one walk in 22 innings. As a rookie last year, he racked up four games of postseason experience including starts in the NLDS and the World Series. He already is comfortable with pitching on a big stage, and now that he's overcome the stretch of inconsistencies, Buehler is putting together a strong case for his first All-Star selection.

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