In Japan, there exists a mythical creature by the name of Shohei Otani – or at least, he should be mythical. The 22-year-old righty-throwing, lefty-hitting baseball god is absolutely laying waste to the Japan Pacific League.
Let’s start with his arm, because he is – first and foremost – a pitcher. Through 16 starts in 2016, Otani has collected a 2.02 ERA over 116.0 innings pitched (second best among starters). During that stretch he has struck out a remarkable 140 batters, while walking just 40. From a pitching stand point alone, he is one of the most exciting players in all of Japan.
But because of what he can do with a bat (and his age), he is probably one of the most exciting players in the world. Watch as he recently crushed a home run – his 18th of the season (yeah …):
Through 257 plate appearances this year, Otani is slashing a ridiculous .341/.451/.649 (1.101 OPS) with 12 doubles, a triple and 18 freakin home runs. And he’s not just doing well – he’s leading the entire league in all three categories of that slash line (!). Moreover, his 18 home runs are tied for fifth most in the JPL, but they come at roughly half the plate appearances as anyone ahead of him – and again, he’s doing all of this while acting as one of the very best pitchers in the entire league. Hell … he’s even been intentionally walked twice.
At some point, Otani may make his way over to the States, and when that happens, it’s going to be something special. I doubt he’ll continue to both pitch and hit in MLB, but hey, maybe it’s time for a new breed of players.
h/t: Reddit /u/pikaren