Shohei Ohtani – The Hope of Japan

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As the 2017 MLB season ended with the first World Series title by the Houston Astros, all teams began their preparation for next year. Among the star players who are expected to be on the move by free agency, one name stands out in the news headlines. He is desired by all 30 teams in the MLB – and he is, the Japanese sensation, Shohei Ohtani.

Then why are all organizations in baseball showing interest to a young Japanese player who never played in the major league before? Ohtani is indeed a very special player – he was not only a great pitcher, but also a great batter in the Japanese baseball league (NPB). As the success of Japanese players continues in the Major Leagues, many scouters believe that Ohtani’s impressive numbers in the NPB will translate into a great career in the Majors. Also, Ohtani is only 23-years old and thus has a potential to be a much better player under the great coaches in the majors. More importantly, due to the new CBA rules, teams only have to pay Ohtani $20 million plus a minor league contract, costing significantly less than any other top free agents.

Ohtani has a dominant style of pitching. With an arsenal consisting of fastball, slider, splitter, curveball, and changeup, his greatest weapon is the average 95~96 mph fastball (which would have ranked top 10 in average fastball velocity among major league starting pitchers last year). His splitter also shows great velocity of 90 mph with good movement, effectively confusing the batters near the plate. As a batter, over the past two years, Ohtani hit 30 home runs with an impressing batting average of just over .320. He is also an above average base runner and a good outfielder. Recently, MLB.com released a scouting report for Ohtani based off a 20-80 scale. His ratings were:

*Pitching

Fastball : 80

Slider : 65

Splitter : 65

Curveball : 50

Changeup : 50

Control : 50

Overall : 70

*Hitting

Hit : 50

Power : 65

Run : 65

Arm : 80

Field : 50

Overall : 60

Ohtani is trying something that Babe Ruth did a hundred years ago, excelling both in pitching and hitting. Although the majors will be a more challenging stage for him, it is truly exciting to wait and see what Ohtani can do with the infinite potential he has.

Ohtani’s Career (NPB) :

Japan Series Champion (2016)

3 X NPB All-Star

Pacific League MVP (2016)

2× Pacific League Pitcher Best Nine (2015–2016)

Designated Hitter Best Nine (2016)

The first player to received the awards as both a Pitcher and a Hitter (2016)

Pacific League ERA leader (2015)

Pacific League Battery Award, with Shota Ono (2015)

WBSC Player of the Year (2015)

Featured Image: https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2017/10/48e52b16b49e-baseball-otani-should-be-ready-to-play-in-3-months-following-surgery.html

 

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