The file on Shohei Ohtani
Get to know Shohei Ohtani
Shohei Ohtani is one of the most fascinating and intriguing players to hit Major League Baseball. Dubbed Japan's Babe Ruth, Ohtani is a two-way star who can hit mammoth home runs and throw 100 miles per hour. Before Ohtani takes the diamond for his new team in the majors for the 2018 season, get to know all about the man who can change the game.
High School Phenom
Ohtani recorded the fastest pitch ever by a Japanese high school pitcher at 99 miler per hour and almost first came to the states as an 18-year-old. He received interest from multiple teams including the Dodgers, Red Sox, Rangers, and Yankees, and on Oct. 21, 2012, Ohtani announced he would pursue a MLB career rather than turn pro in Japan. The Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters decided to still draft Ohtani No. 1 overall. After a month of negotiations, Ohtani signed with his team in Japan.
Ohtani made his professional debut at 18 years old as the Nippon-Ham Fighters' right fielder on Opening Day. He played in 77 games in the field as a rookie and hit .238 with three home runs. Ohtani also appeared in 13 games as a pitcher, 11 starts, and went 3-0 on the mound with a 4.23 ERA.
Measuring Up With MLB Stars
At 20 years old, Ohtani had his first taste of facing major league hitters. Suiting up for Japan in the Japan Series, Ohtani started against a team fielded of MLB stars on Oct. 18, 2014. The big right-hander earned the loss after allowing two earned runs in four innings pitched, but showed how dominant he could be with seven strikeouts.
In the first inning he struck out the side, mowing down Yasiel Puig, Evan Longoria and Justin Morneau.
Ohtani dominated on the mound and at the plate in 2016, showing he could truly be a two-way star in the majors. He was the DH in 104 games and slashed .322/.416/.588 and hit 22 home runs. And, he was even better as a pitcher. Ohtani pitched in 21 games, 20 starts, and went 10-4 with a miniscule 1.86 ERA. He also struck out 174 batters in 140 innings pitched.
Ohtani received 253 out of 254 first-place votes to be named the 2016 Pacific League MVP.
Ohtani is considered the Japanese Babe Ruth for good reasons. The numbers speak for themselves. In five pro seasons in Japan, Ohtani is a .286 career hitter with 48 home runs and a .500 slugging percentage. On the mound, he owns a 42-15 record and a 2.52 ERA while striking out 624 batters to 200 walks in 543 innings pitched.
Making The Leap
On Nov. 11, 2017, Ohtani held a press conference to announce he would take his talents to the majors. At 23 years old, Ohtani is leaving the possibility of a $200 million or more contract on the table instead of waiting until he is 25 years old. The Nippon Professional Baseball Organization and Major League Baseball came to a posting agreement on Nov. 21, making Ohtani a free agent.