Yahoo Sports-It isn’t about the money. Athletes reflexively say this, and sports fans roll their eyes, because of course it’s about the money. It’s always about the money. Then along comes Shohei Otani, 23 years old, the finest baseball player Japan has produced in years, maybe decades, a once-in-a-generation sort who can throw 102 mph and hit tape-measure home runs, a player whose free-market value would start at $200 million if Major League Baseball didn’t restrict the signings of international players under 25 to barely $10 million.
Only Otani, it seems, does not mind the prospect of giving up literally hundreds of millions of dollars to play in the greatest league in the world. Multiple reports out of Japanon Wednesday morning there said the same thing: Otani, who has been called the Japanese Babe Ruth, will enter the posting system this winter and play for a major league team in 2018. This came as no surprise to the general managers and scouts who have flocked in recent weeks to watch him pitch for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters. It also didn’t lessen their excitement any.
HUGE baseball news coming from Asia, Japanese two-way player Shohei Otani appears to be headed to the MLB this off-season. Otani, 23, has been on the radar for quite sometime, and has a skillset Major League Baseball has never seen. The dude throws 100mph and hits tanks in arguably the second best pro baseball league in the world.
Otani is a lifetime 286. hitter in 389 games as a position player, while also posting a fantastic 2.60 ERA in 522 1/3 innings as a pitcher. He’s a 3x NBP all-star, the reigning MVP and the only player to ever win awards as a pitcher and a hitter.
This is a unique move by Otani, as he will be become the youngest Japanese player to be posted for MLB teams to acquire. We rarely get to see Japan’s best in the prime of their careers because of how strong their home league is and the difficult process they must go through to come to the states, but a new precedent is about to be set.
The kid can absolutely ball, and I imagine just about every team in the MLB will try and get him. Although he’s leaving a ton of money on the table now, there’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll more than make up for it if he stays healthy in the big leagues. Time will tell on how he will be used by a Major League team, but they don’t call him the “Japanese Babe Ruth” for nothing.
Don’t believe me? He hit a home run through the roof of the damn stadium last year.
AND he has the hardest recorded pitch in the history of Japanese baseball, clocking at 164 KPH, roughly 102 MPH.
I think the kid will be a star in the bigs, and he’ll have everyone saying “uh-O” when they see his name on the lineup card in the years to come.