Can Japan’s Shohei Otani Become MLB’s First True Two-Way Player?
In case you haven't heard, Shohei Otani of Japan hit a ball clean through the roof of the Tokyo Dome this morning -- nearly 24 hours ago, Japan time -- in an exhibition game against the Netherlands.
Shit. The greatest thing about this is listening to the crowd go silent as the ball disappears through the roof. That is, if you don't count the look on the faces of his coach and teammate.
Otani (he spells it Ohtani on his jersey) has been on the radar for some time -- he plays for the NPB Nippon Ham Fighters, has thrown consistently in the 100-mph range with a 1.72 ERA ... and is one of the league's best hitters. He had 22 home runs this season with 67 RBI, hitting .322.
Speculation is that he could attract a $300 million contract in the MLB free agent market (waves at Yankees). But that's just as a pitcher. Otani's sweet swing presents an interesting dilemma for potential MLB suitors.
It's always been my opinion that Babe Ruth was the greatest player of all time, and any debate on the matter is just foolishness. Ruth not only changed the game with his bat, but he was also one of the greatest pitchers of his time. He was forced to choose, however -- and the Yankees lost a great starting pitcher.
But in those days there was no designated hitter. If an American League team acquired Otani, what's to prevent them from playing him at the DH in games he's not pitching? That would make him MLB's first true two-way player of the modern era.
But his two-way value could be important to a National League team as well. Baseball Essential:
How valuable would a bat such as his be off the bench? On the days that he was not pitching, he would essentially be like having an extra roster player. Not to mention the at-bats he would get in his regular turns in the rotation.
It may be a moot point -- Otani came out of high school in 2012 telling Japanese teams not to bother drafting him if they weren't going to let him hit. That may be a turn-off for MLB teams unwilling to take a chance on him getting injured at the plate or on the basepaths, when they've made a multi-million-dollar investment in his arm. But I'm sure there are those who would take the chance for an opportunity to sign him.
Because how do you keep this corked in a bottle?
So this happened today. Japanese baseball star Shohei Otani hits a fly ball through a 2 foot gap in the roof. Lol the look on the manager. pic.twitter.com/wnRcMCu9q8
— Andy Cole (@AndyCole84) November 14, 2016
It was called a ground-rule double, by the way.
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