We’re all familiar with Shohei Otani by now, right? If not, I’ll give you the 10-second rundown below, but you’re definitely going to want to check him out for yourself.
In short, Otani is a 22-year-old baseball player in Japan who might just be the most interesting baseball player in decades. Otani, you see, is both a pitcher and a hitter – and not in the “Oh, I’m Madison Bumgarner, let me hit for myself in the American League,” way. More in the, “I’m Shohei Otani and I’m slashing .322/.416/.588 with 22 home runs,” kind of way. Yeah.
That batting line, of course, goes along with his 1.86 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in 20 games this season with the Nippon Ham Fighters – where he even recently broke the record for fastest pitch thrown in Japan with a 102 MPH fastball (a record he had previously set himself with at 101.2 MPH).
But, if you can believe it, the legend of Shohei Otani is about to grow by a factor of ten, because of what he did over the weekend. On Sunday, in a pre-World Baseball Classic exhibition game against the Netherlands, Otani crushed a ball straight through the the roof of the Tokyo Dome (and presumably into low-Earth orbit). Check it out:
I feel like I need to add one of those Disclaimers: This video has not been edited from it’s original version and has been formatted to fit your screen.
Otani was ultimately granted a ground-rule double, because if you can’t tell, that ball didn’t ricochet off the ceiling and bounce back into play, it exited through the dome. The shock on the players, coaches, and umpire’s faces was quite telling.
If you’re wondering if Otani might make it to the states, the question might more realistically be when? Some have wondered if his team might post him (and cash in on the $20 million posting fee) this season, but I don’t think that’s very likely.
In all reality, the Ham Fighters will keep him up to his final year under contract – milking as much as they can out of one of the best players in the world – before still cashing in on the same fixed $20 million posting fee anyway. While I’m sure Otani might prefer to be posted in the weak free agent class of this current offseason, his team doesn’t gain anything by cutting ties early (except, possibly, lowering the risk of a career ending injury).
So you may have to wait until 2018-2019, to catch Otani in the states, but when does finally come over (at the ripe old age of 24), you’re sure to see something special. Oh, and be prepared to watch your favorite teams’ GMs climb over themselves like ravenous zombies just to get a ($300 million) piece of him.
Shohei Otani -> legend.