Meet Shohei Ohtani
The hot stoves were burning this past week as MLB teams fought with each other in a desperate attempt to sign someone who had never played in the major leagues before. Why is there all this commotion over a rookie you ask. The reason is this man is no rookie, he’s Shohei Ohtani. Although he’s yet to play a single pitch in the MLB Ohtani is very familiar with the world of professional baseball. He made his professional debut back in 2013 for the Japanese based Nippon-Ham Fighters at the age of 19. In his career Ohtani has been an All-Star, an MVP, and even being recognized as one of the top nine, a title given in Japan to the top performer at each position. Earlier this offseason it was announced that Ohtani would be posted in American making him open for any MLB team to sign him. Now players from foreign countries posting is a fairly regular occurrence, but Ohtani’s posting was nothing regular. Unlike most players who are either a pitcher or a hitter, Ohtani is both. Shohei Ohtani is not only a right handed pitcher, but is also a right fielder/ designated hitter. This type of 2-way player is unheard of in modern day baseball as shown by the fact that the last person to do what Ohtani is going to attempt to do was the Great Bambino himself Babe Ruth. Speaking of Ruth, Ohtani’s ability on a baseball field has been compared to that of the Babe, landing him the nickname of the modern day Babe Ruth.
23 year old Ohtani’s career stats in Japan are phenomenal showing why every MLB team was trying to land the Japanese superstar. Ohtani’s pitching stats are a 42-15 win loss record with a 2.52 ERA and 624 strikeouts in 5 seasons in Japan. On the other side of the ball Ohtani’s career batting stats are a .286 batting average with 48 home runs and 166 RBI’s. Ohtani is a right handed pitcher who has been clocked at over 100 MPH with his fastball, and a lefty batter with a swing compared to that of Bryce Harper’s. Ohtani throws a four seam fastball, forkball, curveball, and a slider, and his pitching ability has been compared to that of Justin Verlander.
In his career Ohtani has received many awards in Japan, from MVP to All-Star Ohtani is well decorated already. He’s a 3 time All Star (2013-2016), Pacific League MVP (2016), 2 time Pacific League Pitcher Best 9 (2015, 2016) and Designated Hitter Best 9 (2016). Ohtani is also the first player ever to be named to the Top 9 as a hitter and a pitcher. Ohtani’s pitching is said to be more developed than his hitting despite some minor control issues, although Ohtani is said to be a very good hitter as hitting comes natural to him.
So now that we’ve met Shohei Ohtani where is he going to play next season? Well the Ohtani sweepstakes gave a lot of team hope of landing the Japanese star, the sweepstakes had to end with a winner and that winner is the LA Angels. After signing with the Angels in early December he shot up to the #1 spot on MLB Pipeline’s top 100 prospect list, and sent Angel’s Nation into a massive celebration. As per his request the Angels have stated that Ohtani will be used as both a hitter and pitcher, although it is not yet clear how he will split playing time with usual DH Albert Pujols and where he will fit in the Angel’s rotation.
Shohei Ohtani has the chance to become a talent that MLB hasn’t seen in almost a century, and that talent will be in the same lineup as Mike Trout. The Angels, and the rest of the baseball world will now anxiously wait for this Japanese superstar’s debut this spring.