Shohei Ohtani is the Japanese pitcher that everybody is excited about coming to the states. Ohtani revealed this week that he wants to come play in the United States next year rather than waiting a few years for his international free agency to arrive.
By coming next year instead of waiting, Ohtani is leaving massive amounts of money on the table thanks to the international posting rules that are a part of the new MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement.
Forget the money part, though, as that will be hashed out six ways from Sunday between now and whenever Ohtani actually ends up on an MLB team.
Let’s focus on why Ohtani is so appealing to every team in the league — even those who won’t have the money freed up to really make a run at him when the time comes. Sure, he’s a great pitcher. He can hit 102 off the mound and he put up a 1.86 ERA while striking out 174 batters in 140 innings last season. He has been called the Japanese Babe Ruth.
“But Babe Ruth was known for both his hitting and his pitching!” you might say. Well that’s where things get fun because as good as Ohtani is as a pitcher he might actually be a better hitter.
In addition to those pitching stats, Ohtani had a line of .322/.416/.588 with 27 home runs at the plate in 2016. Not only that, but he’s a right-handed pitcher and a left-handed batter. His hitting is awesome to watch, leading people to believe he could both play the field and pitch for whatever team he choose in the US.
His swing is so smooth and powerful.
He once hit a home run all the way to a stadium tunnel.
And once, he hit a ball so hard it disappeared into the roof of the Tokyo Dome.
It’s impossible to look away from the gif that resulted from that hit.
His teammates have NO idea how to react and it’s incredible.
Whether an MLB will actually allow him to play the field consistently and pitch is another story, as protecting amazing pitching assets is usually top of the list for major league clubs.
The Yankees’ Masahiro Tanaka commented on that potential decision after a recent game, acknowledging that it might be tough but there’s no telling whether it’s a workable arrangement.
"In reality, I think we can't really say he can do it or can't do it, and I do know that no one is doing that right now in the league. But anything is possible and I think it's wrong for anybody to say he can do this or can't do that."
"I think it's about where you draw the line being successful as both a pitcher and a batter. If you come to think about it, if you look at reality, perhaps it's not possible to win 20 games and hit 50 home runs. But it's where you draw that line of being successful.
Whatever team he ends up with, and whatever they decide on doing with his multiple talents, everybody should be looking forward to his hitting and how fun it will be to have it the league just as much as they are looking forward to his pitching prowess.