Assigning Fantasy Value to Shohei Ohtani
The 2018 Fantasy Baseball Value of Shohei Ohtani
As many of you probably know, I am a producer for the FNTSY Sports Radio Network. Why am I telling you this? Well, one exciting Friday night of producing In This League, host Chris Welsh said something that really made me realize just how unique a situation we are dealing with. He said Shohei Ohtani will be the first player in Fantasy Baseball history in which individual leagues will have to set his value and hosting sites will likely handle him differently.
That is right, different Fantasy sites are handling this situation in different ways.
FanTrax – One Ohtani that is SP and Utility eligible
CBS Sports- One Ohtani that is SP and Utility eligible
Yahoo Sports- One hitter Ohtani, One pitcher Ohtani
NFBC- Ohtani is only SP eligible
ESPN- has not yet announced
As you can see, there are three possible scenarios here. You have to know the league settings now more than ever. But, this brings me to my next point. How should you value Ohtani in your league? Well, that not only depends on the site you play on, but also on your league settings. Before I dive into that, I want to show you some projections for Ohtani.
Now, I am not a huge projection guy, but since we have never seen him play and we cannot just look at his numbers in Japan and extrapolate them, we have to look at projections. Here is what Steamer projects for him:
Pitcher: 24 starts, 148 innings, 3.49 ERA, 11 wins, 7 losses, 183 strikeouts, 1.20 WHIP, 11.09 K/9, 3.57 BB/9.
Hitter: 54 games, 216 at bats, .257/.334/.454, 9 HRs, 27 runs, 28 RBIs, 2 stolen bases, 9.9% BB, 29.3% K, .197 ISO.
Valuing Ohtani in Dual Eligibility Leagues
As you can see from those projections, he is much more valuable as a pitcher. That is nothing that we did not already know. While the novelty of him being able to do both is amazing, he is most valuable on the mound. From what I have read, the Angels plan to use Ohtani similar to how he was used in Japan. He will pitch, take the next day off, be in the lineup the next three days, take one day of rest, and repeat. If that is the case, you will likely get him in a lineup three times a week, although that could change if either he struggles to hit, or they elect to forgo the DH and let him bat on days he pitches. But, given all the unknowns let’s say he will be in the lineup an average of three games per week.
So just how valuable would that make him in leagues in which you can use him as both a hitter and pitcher? To me, it depends on the format of your league.
Weekly Lineup Leagues: In this format, I find it hard that you would ever take Ohtani out of the pitcher spot, where he is projected to be most useful, and throw him in your Utility spot. Additionally, you would be using that valuable spot in your lineup on a player that will see about 12 at-bats per week. It doesn’t matter how good he is at the plate. If he is only getting that many at-bats, he will not be worth starting, especially when you consider that you may also have to forfeit his pitching stats for the week. Ohtani will be ranked between 20 and 30 at the Starting Pitcher position, and that is how you should value him in this format.
Daily Lineup Leagues: This is where he holds the most value. You are drafting a player that is widely valued as a Top-30 starting pitcher AND one that according to projections, should have a .200 ISO. Want to know players who had that kind of power last season? Some standout names are Kyle Seager, Carlos Santana, Kendrys Morales, Mookie Betts, Rougned Odor and Alex Bregman. Now, Ohtani is not going to be nearly as valuable as those players as a hitter, but the point is that if he can live up to those ratio expectations, he will be a hitter worthy of throwing in the Utility spot when he is starting at DH. Combining those numbers, I believe that he has the potential to finish as a Top-40 player and perhaps higher, which is why I do not think it is crazy to take him in the third round in this format.
Valuing Ohtani in Single Eligiblity Leagues
By single eligible leagues, I mean sites like NFBC where he is SP only, or Yahoo, where there are two separate listings for Ohtani. This is much easier to break down, but let’s start with the pitcher.
Pitcher Ohtani should be valued just like I said earlier. Value him somewhere between the Top 20 to 30 starting pitchers unless you buy into the thinking that he can go 180 innings and will be better than projections indicate. In that case, you will be the owner that I expect to see in every league willing to take him earlier than others might. Realistically, if you want Ohtani, I suspect that you are going to have to draft him as a Top 20 starting pitcher. Either way, make sure you only value what he can for you on the mound and not the fact that he will be a fun novelty this season. Just make sure you grab the correct Ohtani, as I know there will be some horror stories of owners grabbing the hitter Ohtani in the fourth round.
Hitter Ohtani kind of depends on your league format, but not too much. In a weekly lineup league, I am fading Ohtani as a hitter. Again, the likelihood that you are getting three games per week as a hitter makes it just too difficult to trust him in your lineup for a seven-game span. He would have to be otherworldly good to match players that are playing in six or seven games per week. As for those in daily lineup leagues, the hitter version can be a late round pick. Perhaps he will be good enough at the plate to get into your lineup the days he starts. I am fine taking a shot on him there later in drafts. But I cannot justify anything more than that.
Make sure to follow me on Twitter, @MichaelFFlorio!
Shoehei Ohtani Photo Credit: AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi
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