Shohei Ohtani, Japan’s version of Babe Ruth, should be on his way to playing in the Major Leagues in 2018. On Wednesday, it was reported that Ohtani will be posted on the market this winter for Major League clubs to bid on his talents.
The 22-year-old is the most exciting player to come out of Japan since Ichiro Suzuki in 2001. As a 27-year-old rookie, Ichiro took the big leagues by storm, setting the single-season record for hits in a season and earning an All Star game nod, the AL MVP, AL Rookie of the year, a Gold Glove, and a Silver Slugger.
What makes Ohtani so unique is his dominance on both the pitcher’s mound and at the dish. He has been clocked throwing 102mph which is the fastest pitch in Japan professional baseball history. And Ohtani thinks he can still improve upon that speed as he continues to mature.
Last season on the mound he was 10-4 with a 1.86 ERA in 140 innings pitched. Ohtani probably would have been able to make his Major League debut this season had he not suffered ankle and thigh injuries before the season began.
Ohtani had a strong pitching performance on Tuesday when he went 5 2/3 scoreless innings on the mound in just his third start of the year.
Last season, Ohtani took home the league MVP honors last season when he hit .322 with 22 home runs and 67 RBI in 104 games played. Despite the low number of home runs, Ohtani’s power is off the charts. It’s so absurd that he hit a ball through the Tokyo Dome’s roof last year.
This season – in 52 games – Ohtani has hit .346 with 7 HR, 14 doubles, and 28 RBI.
Ohtani has made it clear that he wants to be able to continue to both pitch and hit in the major leagues. Meaning he would need to play on an American League team so he could bat as a designated hitter in between his starts on the mound.
Some of the teams that have given Ohtani a healthy look thus far are the Yankees, Rays, Rangers. It is not a matter of if anymore, but rather who will Ohtani play for in America.
— Intentional Talk (@IntentionalTalk) September 14, 2017