Shohei Otani: The Man Defying All Odds

Nikhil Dhruv ’26 in Sports | April 28, 2023

Three-time Major League Baseball(MLB) all-star, Pacific League MVP, American League (AL) Rookie of the Year, and American League Silver Slugger. These are just a few of the numerous accomplishments of the young Japanese phenom, Shohei Ohtani. Growing up in Oshu, Iwate, Japan, Shohei’s passion for baseball was fostered at a young age. By the time he was in high school, scouts from all over the world were coming to see him play. Despite his deep interest in the MLB, he was drafted by the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters and would end up playing in the NPB (Nippon Professional Baseball) for the first four years of his career. Shohei established a name for himself during those four years by leading the Fighters to a Japan Series victory (equivalent to the World Series in the United States) in 2016. After the 2017 season, Ohtani felt that he needed more of a challenge, so he crossed the ocean to join the Los Angeles Angels on a lucrative $200 million contract. Since signing with the Angels, Ohtani has been arguably the best player in the MLB. 
In 2018, Ohtani won AL Rookie of the Year and was a force to be reckoned with.  Finding a baseball player who is both an extraordinary pitcher and hitter was thought to be nearly impossible, but Ohtani has proved scouts wrong by consistently hitting 450 feet home runs and throwing blazing 98 mph fastballs.  By posting a .285 batting average and a 3.3 earned run average in his rookie year, Ohtani immediately showed the league that he is the ‘real deal.’ As time has progressed, he has only gotten better and better.  In 2021, Ohtani had a historic season by hitting 46 home runs, throwing 156 strikeouts, stealing 26 bases, and ultimately achieving the AL MVP award. Jumping to 2023, Ohtani started the year victorious as he led Japan to their third World Baseball Classic (WBC) victory, winning WBC MVP and out-dueling his teammate Mike Trout in the process. During the tournament, Ohtani continued to prove he was a threat, as he had eight RBI’s (Runs batted in) and struck out 11 batters. 
Although there are numerous great things to be said about Ohtani, there are also a fair amount of concerns. The main concern is whether he’ll be able to manage his current workload over the long term and if he’ll be able to continue his rigorous pace. Being asked to throw around 100 pitches one day and then being tasked to play the field and bat the next day is no easy task. Luckily for Ohtani, his injuries thus far haven’t been very severe, but as he starts to get older, it can be harder for him to perform at the top level he has thus far. He has suffered a few minor injuries over the past years, but nothing that had a chronic impact. 
Ohtani so far has proven that he has what it takes to become one of the greatest baseball players.  Here is what we can expect to see from Shohei in the near future. There is a very high probability he will leave the Angels when his contract expires after this season. The most probable destinations include the high-profile teams on the East Coast such as the Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, or Phillies. He will win another MVP within the next three years and will lead the league in strikeouts thrown. Last but not least, Ohtani will finally make the playoffs and win the world series at least once. As for his legacy, everyone in the world would know his name as he will leave a long-lasting impact on the world of baseball. It will be interesting to see what Ohtani will accomplish and whether others will follow in his footsteps.