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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Shohei Ohtani (like Babe Ruth can pitch and hit) could be fun to manage.

Shohei Ohtani was mentioned in a Wall Street Journal article in July 2015.

Note that two different spellings of his last name are floating around: Ohtani and Otani. His uniform shirt has Ohatni. See youtube.com video of Ohatni hitting a fly ball through the roof:

But baseball-reference.com and writer Joel Sherman use Otani.

This ‘Babe Ruth’ pitcher/slugger may get $300M
By Joel Sherman November 9, 2016

Shohei Otani is what this current free-agent market lacks.

I'm going with the shirt spelling (Ohtani) for now. Nov. 15, 2016.

Japan’s Answer to Babe Ruth: Shohei Ohtani
Shohei Ohtani moonlights as an outfielder and DH when he’s not busy being one of the best pitchers in Japan
By BRAD LEFTON July 29, 2015 6:54 p.m. ET Tokyo

What’s unfathomable about Ohtani is that most of those at-bats came in between starts as the ace of the Fighters staff and one of the most dominant pitchers in Japan.

Ohtani, who turned 20 that year, became the first professional baseball player since Babe Ruth in 1918 to achieve a season of double digits in both wins as a pitcher and homers as a batter. Here, Ohtani is even considered Ruthian in stature at 6-foot-4, 200 pounds...

Ohtani typically starts once a week in the Fighters six-man rotation. In between, he idles his time batting in their lineup as an outfielder or designated hitter...

This unprecedented routine was the Fighters’ negotiating ploy as a way of enticing him to stay in Japan...

“To tell the truth, I was upset when they drafted me because my mind was made up to go to America,” Ohtani confesses. “But then they explained this idea where I could continue doing both of the things I loved, pitching and hitting. I never imagined such a thing could be possible as a pro...

It’s widely thought the plan includes a promise to allow Ohtani to go to the U.S. when he feels he’s ready to go through the posting system...

By his senior year, the Rangers, Red Sox, and Yankees were among MLB teams that had come for a look...

Nearly everyone, including Ohtani, feels pitching will ultimately be his calling.


For some perspective, Babe Ruth played 2,084 games for the Yankees, only five as a pitcher: 5-0. Why? Supposedly, he didn't want to do both. With the Red Sox through 1919, Ruth had gradually transitioned from a full time pitcher to mostly an outfielder. His pitching games with Boston 1915-1919: 32, 44, 41, 20, 17. Some of the decrease in 1918 and 1919 was due to fewer games being played because of World War I. But look at Ruth's plate appearances (PA) in those seasons: 103, 152, 142, 382, 543. In 1919 Ruth broke the season home run record with 29.

Sports writer Joel Sherman has recently written about Shohei Otani (?) and this week Sherman spoke about Ohtani on MLB Network where Sherman frequently appears. Sherman assures us that his multiple sources who have seen Ohtani in person think that he is the real deal, both pitching and batting.

Shohei Otani baseball-reference.com spelling
Positions: Outfielder and Pitcher
Bats: Left, Throws: Right
Height: 6' 3", Weight: 189 lb.
Born: July 5, 1994 (Age 22)

201318-10.4Nippon HamJPPLFgn772041891445151320411264.238.284.376.6607131020
201419-9.3Nippon HamJPPLFgn8723421232581711031102148.274.338.505.84210740010
201520-8.4Nippon HamJPPLFgn7011910915224051710843.202.252.376.6284110021
201621Nippon HamJPPLFgn104382323651041812267725498.322.416.5881.00419071042
All Levels (4 Seasons)3389398331262295434013513395253.275.347.491.838409152093

201318-9.8Nippon HamJPPLFgn301.0004.234.381311000061.25730294330468022741.4598.
201419-8.6Nippon HamJPPLFgn114.7332.612.9024240320155.1125504575701794166391.1727.20.43.310.43.14
201520-7.6Nippon HamJPPLFgn155.7502.242.2422220530160.2100404074601963096210.9095.60.42.611.04.26
201621Nippon HamJPPLFgn104.7141.862.1221200410140.089332944501748065480.9575.70.32.911.23.87
All Levels (4 Seasons)3913.7502.492.66807701260517.23711531432218105952312320821.0666.
What must have gotten people's attention recently was Ohtani's 2016 OPS of 1.004. And that's with a big increase in PA from his previous high of 234 to 382. Ohtani hit 22 home runs and 18 doubles.

In the last three seasons Ohtani's games pitched have decreased: 24, 22, 21. Those are modest numbers of starts by U.S. standards even today. Even with arm troubles, mostly in the first two of his three Yankee seasons, Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka has started: 20, 24, 31. In 2016 100 U.S. pitchers started at least 24 games, led by:

2016 Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters: 87-53 (140 games) Japan Pacific League from baseball-reference.com

1Kohei Arihara23119.5502.9422220210156.01505251133811032136401.2058.
2Shohei Otani21104.7141.8621200410140.089332944501748065480.9575.70.32.911.23.87
3Luis Mendoza3278.4673.8823220000132.1135645713452774075731.3609.
4Hirotoshi Takanashi25102.8332.3837149110109.27930296360864004391.0496.
5Mitsuo Yoshikawa*2876.5384.1927205003109.212553519520655014941.61410.
6Anthony Bass2888.5003.6537144000103.210248427474714024521.4378.
7Takayuki Kato*2473.7003.453016100091.19137354311642013921.3369.
Ohtani was second on his team in innings pitched with 140.

1Kensuke Tanaka*35143626541611471412532286956.272.361.312.67416949343
2Sho Nakata2714162456961142261251102147126.250.308.431.738245143051
3Takuya Nakashima*251436004736611510102823963117.243.333.268.601127516210
4Brandon Laird281435985477114421039970044138.263.319.516.835282163041
5Haruki Nishikawa*241385934937615518454341573113.314.405.398.802196032220
6Dai-Kang Yang291305554956614524114615642121.293.359.430.7902131010711
7Shohei Otani*21104382323651041812267725498.322.416.5881.00419071042
8Shota Ono291093512822669130535102563.245.334.344.678976133100
Ohtani had the 7th most PA on his team, the third most home runs and by far the highest OPS: 1.004.

Ohtani is tied for the tallest Japanese player on his team. Thirty year old American Chris Martin was the tallest at 6'8"; Martin relieved in 16 games in 2014 for Colorado and 2 in 2015 for the Yankees.

Hideki Matsui was a big star in Japan. He hit 50 home runs for the 2002 Yomiuri Giants in the Japan Central League but topped out at 31 in his second season with the Yankees (2003-2009).

Finally, how would an American team use Ohtani?

National Conference (NC):
- pitchers bat, no designated hitter (DH)
- Ohtani would have to play the field in NC games.

American Conference (AC):
- when pitching Ohtani's team would have to forego the DH for the entire game, even after Ohtani had been removed ... but they could move Ohtani to another position so that he could bat again and maybe even come back to pitch. Hey, this could be fun.
- when not pitching, DH ... unless playing in NC park; see above.

So, is Ohtani something like Babe Ruth? Would he be more like Rick Ankiel (1999-2013, not 2002) who started as a pitcher, lost his ability to throw strikes, stopped pitching and came back as an outfielder? In 2008 Ankiel was the starting center fielder for the Cardinals: 120 games, 463 PA, 25 HR, .834 OPS, 120 OPS+. That was his best season.

Then there's this. Ohtani would be running the bases a lot more than most pitchers, especially those in the AC. Maybe by already doing that a lot he has developed enough for base running to not unreasonably cause injury. U.S. pitchers have become so limited in their activities that base running has caused serious injury to at least two starting pitchers in recent seasons: Adam Wainwright (2015) and Chein-Ming Wang (2008).

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