Skip to content
A is a left-handed hitter. In 599 plate appearances in the 2023 season, he batted .304 (497-for-151) with 44 home runs and 95 RBIs.
His OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) reached 1.066.
He also stole 20 bases. The home run title was his.
B is a right-handed pitcher.
He didn’t quite match his 2022 season (15-9 with a 2.33 ERA), but he did go 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA.
In 132 innings pitched, he struck out 167 batters. His fastball tops out at 165 miles per hour.
Did you notice that A, who “hits well” with his left hand, and B, who “throws well” with his right hand, are the same person?
He is the “game changer” of modern baseball.
Ohtani’s baseball career began with weekend little league.
His father (Toru Otani), a factory worker who played for the Mitsubishi Social Baseball Team before retiring due to injury, enjoyed playing catch with his sons (Shohei and his older brother Ryuta) when he wasn’t working.
Otani played little league baseball from the age of eight and looked forward to weekends playing baseball.
Due to the location (Oshu City, Iwate Prefecture), he could only watch Yomiuri Giants broadcasts, and he idolized Yomiuri outfielder Hideki Matsui.
As a child, Otani thought that “baseball was just a hobby” and felt that “there are many baseball players who are better than me.”
But his baseball life changed when he went to Hanamaki Higashi-Koshiro.
As he grew in stature (193 centimeters tall), he became more powerful at the plate. He was eating 12 bowls of rice a day.
At the age of 16, he threw a ball at 153 kilometers per hour, and the following year, 159 kilometers per hour was recorded with a speed gun.
Hamstring injuries disrupted his form, but his velocity was enough to catch the eye of American clubs.
The Dodgers, Texas Rangers, and Boston Red Sox, among others, were interested in signing him.
Ohtani said he wanted to play in the U.S. and asked Japanese teams not to select him in the draft.
In Nippon Professional Baseball, if a high school player is drafted and goes to the U.S. without signing with the Japanese team that drafted him, he is restricted from playing for three years (two years for college graduates) when he returns to Japanese baseball in the future.
That changed when the Nippon Hammers were the only team out of 12 to select Ohtani in the first round of the draft.
(In Japan, 12 teams write down their first-round picks simultaneously, and a lottery is held when multiple teams select the same player.) “
The draft is not about picking the players you can sign, it’s about picking the best players.
That’s our way of scouting,” he said, explaining why he selected Ohtani.
It wasn’t easy to change Ohtani’s mind about going to the United States.
There were many skeptics inside and outside of Japanese baseball. But Nippon Ham was proactive.
He analyzed the types of Japanese players who came to the U.S. and showed Ohtani a road map to the major leagues.
Among his materials was a video that showed the realities of minor league life: long bus rides, empty stadiums with no fans, and crappy housing. 온라인카지노
The most compelling offer was the “two-hitter.
With a very high chance of success, Ohtani was sold on the idea of going straight to the major leagues.
No other professional athlete in modern baseball, with its division of labor and professionalization, bat and pitch like Ohtani.
In an era where starting pitchers are considered “overworked” for even taking the mound in the bullpen without four or five days of rest, it’s hard to imagine a player who could do that.
The risk of injury is also high, making it a risky investment.
In the Nippon Professional Baseball Central League, which does not have a designated hitter system, pitchers bat, but they do not bat.
Even in the long history of Major League Baseball, few players have succeeded at batting second.
Babe Ruth (George Herman Ruth), the “Home Run King,” is the most talked about, but that was in the late 1910s.
For the Boston Red Sox, Roose went 23-12 with a 2.75 ERA in 1916 and 24-13 with a 2.01 ERA in 1917.
In 1917, he also had more than 100 at-bats as a hitter, but didn’t break out.
After being traded to the New York Yankees, he excelled as a home run hitter, hitting 59 homers in 1921 and 60 in 1927.
With the Yankees, he took the mound only five times as a pitcher.
Ruth’s career statistics for his 22 seasons include 163 games as a pitcher (147 starts) with a 94-46 record and a 2.28 ERA, and 2503 games as a hitter with a .342 batting average, 714 home runs and 2214 RBIs.
Ohtani’s biggest strength as a pitcher is his fastball.
In the Pacific League Climax Series in October 2016, Ohtani threw a 165 kilometers per hour fastball in relief.
It was the fastest fastball in Nippon Professional Baseball until 2021, when Tiago Vieira of Yomiuri threw 166 kilometers per hour.
Ohtani’s fastball is even more powerful when paired with a forkball that flies like a fastball and then drops in front of the batter. “
He has a fastball and a good forkball,” said Kim In-sung, who watched Ohtani during the 2015 Premier 12.
He also throws sliders and curves, and I think he’s the best pitcher in Japan since the 90s.”
What makes Otani the Hitter so appealing is his long ball power.
Nippon Ham scout Takashi Ofuchi told Bleacher Report, “When he hit a home run against high school opponent Shintaro Fujinami at Koshien in the spring of his junior year, I’ve never seen a home run that was so perfect and beautiful.”
“His long arms made his pitches off-balance, but his hitting mechanics were perfect from then on,” he said.
His feet aren’t slow either.
A major league scout told Sports Illustrated (SI), “It takes him 3.89 seconds to run from the left field batter’s box to first base.”
While the club and manager may be supportive, it’s up to Ohtani to perfect his two-hit game.
He has to train twice as much as other players because he has to combine throwing and hitting. Despite this, Ohtani shows no signs of exhaustion.
“It’s not hard at all,” he says.
When he was playing in Nippon Professional Baseball, Ohtani lived in the team dormitory and ate his meals and did his physical training at the team’s facilities.
He never drank or smoked.
His hobbies include watching sports movies and reading books about training methods and diet.
He also likes to take half baths and naps, but he doesn’t go to clubs at all.
He believes that trash is the luck of the draw and works hard to pick up trash in and around the dugout.
Following a mandalat plan (a purposeful technique developed by a Japanese designer) in his freshman year of high school, Ohtani now throws a ball up to 160 kilometers per hour and has also perfected forkball.
He continues to work on his pitches and delivery, as well as his body, and in December 2017, he made it to the major leagues.
In addition to his mandalat plan, Ohtani has a separate baseball plan, and as planned, he went on to represent Japan in the World Baseball Classic (WBC), winning the title (2023) and being named Most Valuable Player (MVP).
He won the league MVP at age 27 (2021), just as he had planned.
Ohtani was also named American League MVP in 2023, the first player in MLB history to record a 10-win, 40-homer season.
He is the first player in MLB history to win two unanimous MVP awards.
A World Series title is also on his agenda.
But he’s never been to the postseason in his six years in the majors.
On the other hand, the Los Angeles Dodgers, who he signed a 10-year, $700 million ($92.4 billion) contract with on Tuesday, have won the National League West in 10 of the last 11 seasons.
They have topped 100 wins in five of the last six seasons and won the World Series in 2020.
There’s no denying that the Dodgers are the organization that could fulfill Ohtani’s longtime dream.
Ohtani has taken a path that no one else in modern baseball has taken, and he’s succeeded in doing so, creating a new paradigm and the first “$700 million” ransom in North American sports history.
“Hitting and throwing, that’s the only baseball I know.
It’s unnatural to me to do one thing and not the other.
Maybe it’s a talent to do what other people don’t do (batting and throwing).
But it’s just something that comes naturally to me.”