In some corner of the earth a mad scientist – who happens to love baseball – says to himself: “Is it possible to take the home-run talents of Bryce Harper and combine them with the pitching ability of Clayton Kershaw?”
He laughs, as he thinks the idea is assinine. Then Japan walks into the room and says: “The Bryce Harper/Clayton Kershaw guy? Oh yeah, we have one of those. His name is Shohei Ohtani.”
Dear Bryce Harper,
— 106.7 The Fan (@1067theFan) September 6, 2017
The 22-year-old has an impressive frame standing at 6-foot-4, 190-pounds. Ohtani could become the most exciting baseball player to come out of Japan since Ichiro.
Ohtani may be the most interesting baseball player on the planet. He is the most dominant pitcher and hitter of the Japanese Pacific League (their Major Leagues). Ohtani has been clocked at 102.5 mph, which is the fastest in league history. Not in a cocky way at all, Ohtani thinks he can improve upon that number.
Last season on the mound Ohtani went 10-4 with a 1.86 ERA, 174 strikeouts, 45 walks, and only four HR allowed. He actually had more strikeouts (196) and more wins (15) the year before.
Ohtani not only possesses Bryce Harper-like power at the plate but hits for a high average as well. Usually, Ohtani would hit as a DH or a play some outfield on the 3-4 rest days he would have in between starts.
2016 was his best season thus far at the plate, batting .322 with 22 HR, 67 RBI, and 65 runs scored.
This past season Ohtani has missed significant time for the Nippon Ham Fighters due to a thigh injury he suffered while running out a ground ball. Meaning his 2017 numbers have not been as impressive, but that hasn’t stopped major league scouts from going across the pond to see him.
Ohtani wants to come to the major leagues next season, but in doing so he would leave about $200 million on the table because of baseball’s collective bargaining agreement, which states that an international player’s signing bonus cannot exceed $10.1 million.
This doesn’t bother Ohtani as he wants to make the transition. He has a few preferences for when he makes the switch: he wants to be assured that he will have an opportunity to both hit and pitch for the team he plays for (basically he’s going to play for an American League team so he can DH on off days).
The New York Yankees seem to be at the forefront to sign Ohtani. As a hitter, he would be the perfect guy to place after right-handed hitter Aaron Judge, plus there’s no telling how many home runs Ohtani could hit out to the short 314-foot porch in right field at Yankee Stadium.
A young team that would be downright filthy with Ohtani as a pitcher/DH is the Houston Astros. Not only are they the best team in the AL but they are also one of the youngest with a core of guys like Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, and George Springer. The ball seems to carry well in that Texas heat.
And you can’t talk about big-name free agents with out mentioning the Boston Red Sox. Ohtani would make a viable replacement at DH for Hanley Rameriz and would probably lead the league in doubles with his ability to pepper Green Monster in left field of Fenway Park. He would also make a great addition to an already deadly pitching staff which features Chris Sale (the possible 2017 Cy Young award winner), David Price, Doug Fister, and Rick Porcello.
Which ever AL team lands the Japanese star, not only will he come at a bargain but he will bolster any pitching staff/batting order instantly.