MLB says “Konnichiwa” to superstar Shohei Ohtani

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Kevin Sullivan, Orange County Register

Ohtani will be under the eyes of the entire baseball world the first time he steps onto the field...whether it's on the mound or at the plate.

Joe Messina, Assistant Sports Editor

A pitcher and a hitter. He throws 102 mph and hits 400-foot home runs. Japanese baseball superstar Shohei Ohtani can do it all, and he is coming to America.

This winter, a two-way star from the Japanese professional baseball team called the Nippon Ham Fighters by the name of Shohei Ohtani announced he will be coming to America to play in the Major Leagues. This announcement blew up the sports world. Ohtani has the potential to be one of the best and most entertaining players baseball has ever seen. In Japan, where he played on the same team that produced Dodger’s flamethrower Yu Darvish, he put up MVP caliber numbers on both sides of the ball. On the mound Ohtani was about as dominant as you can get. In 82 starts he posted a 42-15 record with a 2.52 ERA and 624 strikeouts. And, he did it all with his cannon of an arm that has reached up to 102 mph. That in its own right is incredible, but he did all of that while hitting 48 home runs, driving in 166 runs and a .500 SLG% in the equivalent to a full MLB season’s worth of at-bats.

Baseball player and fan Kaito Kramarczyk ‘19 thinks the arrival of such a talented player will be extremely interesting. “He is the cream of the crop in Japan,” Kramarczyk said, “The numbers he put up were astronomical.” However, Kramarczyk isn’t sure the “two-way” part of his game will stick as much here in America. Kaito, who is Japanese and has been to the country many times explains, “Japan is different. It is more of a small ball type of game. Ohtani has real major league pitching potential though. I mean 102 mph is no joke. But pitching in the MLB is different also, and I don’t think he will be an everyday hitter here.” Another HB ball player, Max Mello ‘19, agreed, saying “On opening day, unless Ohtani is on the mound for the start, I think he should be on the bench.”

Ohtani just signed with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for 2.3 million, which is very cheap considering his prospective talent. Kyle Hsu ‘19, who plays baseball at HB as well, even believes that Ohtani will make the Angels contenders in the AL West. “The Astros have more depth, but the Angels with Trout and Ohtani could give them a run for their money.” Mello, however, is stuck on the fact that Ohtani will fail in the MLB. “He is going to make a bad team worse,” Mello claims, “He is going to be a bust. Look at the history! All these Japanese superstars come over and about 1 out of 10 actually go on and succeed at the level they did in Japan. Look at Dice-K, nobody knows where he went, and he did not do very well in the long run.” Dice-K (Daisuke Matsuzaka) pitched for the Red Sox from 2007-2012, before bouncing around teams for a bit and now going back to Japan.

The anticipation is incredible. The MLB hasn’t seen a superstar with this much hype in a long time. Hsu claims Ohtani could be the MLB equivalent of “the next Lebron for the NBA, or Brady for the NFL.” The lights are shining and the cameras are flashing. Ohtani will be under a lot of pressure, and we will see if he is up to the task.