Christmas will come at least three days early for one baseball team this year; Ohtani Claus is coming to town. You may have heard about Shohei Ohtani in the last few weeks, if you haven’t, here’s what you need to know: he has a 100 MPH fastball to go with solid offspeed stuff, he hits like Bryce Harper, and he’s been deemed by at least one writer (Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs) to be a winning lottery ticket for whomever gets to sign him.
As speculation rolled forth over the last few months and teams stockpiled cash with which to lure Ohtani to their dugout, it seemed inevitable that Ohtani would sign with the New York Yankees. Last night, however, Ohtani blew the minds of every San Francisco Giants and Seattle Mariners fan by announcing not only that he wouldn’t be signing with New York or Boston, but that he’s looking to play in a smaller market west coast team.
As a Mariners fan, I felt just like this when I heard the news. (Just insert “Ohtani” instead of “eagles”, you get it.)
All the hype aside, Ohtani will be a huge experiment and a prototype in Major League Baseball. A lot of people are calling him the next Babe Ruth, a player who can win the Cy Young and bat cleanup when he’s not pitching. The truth is, Major League Baseball in 2017 is a completely different game than it was in the 1920s; you can’t thrive on a diet of hot dogs, cigars, and beer. The pitching is better than it’s ever been, and the hitting gets better by the day.
If he can pull it off, he’ll be in the conversation of being one of the all-time greats. If not, he could still succeed on one side or the other and be a force for whoever has the pleasure of signing him.