After injuries prevented him from pitching for most of the year, 23-year-old Japanese ace Shohei Otani has now made four starts in the NPB season, notching 19 strikeouts over 16.1 innings he’s pitched … and 14 walks. The rust is still shaking off, it seems.
He’s also been able to take 211 plate appearances, and is hitting .333/.403/.554. No rust there.
Much more on one of the most sought-after players in the world …
- We continue to operate under the assumption that Otani will definitely be coming to MLB this offseason, but that won’t actually be a lock until he’s posted, so rumors about the posting, itself, will persist. I remember everyone being in a similar spot a few years ago with respect to Masahiro Tanaka – we assumed he’d be posted, but it wasn’t a certainty, and then it didn’t finally get confirmed until Christmas Day.
- We’ll see if there’s that same kind of will-they-won’t-they this offseason. Keep in mind, a new posting agreement needs to be worked out between MLB and NPB, and Otani’s team might want to wait to see if they can get a little more money from his posting if the agreement is about to change.
- To the extent you’re looking for the latest on that side of things, Jon Heyman reports that sources say he is “taking steps to make the move.” There are no specifics beyond that, but my best guess is that it means he’s started the process of considering/researching/interviewing State-side agents.
- Joe Maddon talked about the skill set and the possibility of managing a unique two-way player like Otani, but he was pretty open about the fact that it’s a better fit – on paper – for an American League team that can use the designated hitter (CSN). Two thoughts on that: (1) Joe! Shhhh!; and (2) get the DH in the NL already.
- In all seriousness, here’s the reality on the two-way player thing: there’s no question that the AL is a better fit. Having to play the outfield in order to bat on days he doesn’t pitch is a huge, huge risk for a key pitcher. Being able to simply DH? Well, that’s pretty darn doable if the ability is there. If Otani is dead set on being a FULLY two-way player, then American League teams are going to have an almost insurmountable advantage in the recruitment process.
- Speaking of which, you can read scouting reports/analyses here at MLB.com and here at FanGraphs on the prospect of Otani actually succeeding as a two-way player. The talent is probably there, but the demands – especially at the big league level – of trying to do both is just so intensive.
- Theo Epstein wouldn’t really talk about the Cubs’ interest in Otani, by the way, because he’s not yet been posted (CSN).