First off, what a boring-ass team to sign Shohei Otani. At best, the Angels are the Mets of SoCal. Pissed off Mets fan, “I’m supposably assuming youse are talking like the Yanks are the best team of New York?” Well, I wasn’t saying it was the Nets, Jets, Giants or Bills. The Yankees just traded for Giancarlo, the Mets are looking at re-signing Neil Walker. Point, set, match. (Here’s my Giancarlo Stanton 2018 fantasy after his trade; it’s super erotic.) The Angels are so pathetic they decided to change their name to the Los Angeles Angels. I’m sorry, but that’s just sad. That’s like marrying a woman who has a kid, who is a Jr., and you decide to take his father’s first name, so you can be his new Sr. Angels, you are not L.A.’s senior! Have you heard anyone in Anaheim complaining about the fires of Los Angeles? No? That’s because they’re 40 minutes away without traffic, and there’s always traffic! Okay, blood’s boiling in my ulcer, I need to calm down. Let’s do the jump, and get back at it about Shohei Otani. Anyway, here’s what I think of Shohei Otani for 2018 fantasy baseball:
I saw the 60 Minutes segment on Shohei Otani. I read Prospector Ralph’s Shohei Otani fantasy. I heard Ohtani has an 80 Speed Score. I heard Ohtani was a character created by George Plimpton for Sports Illustrated. I heard Ohtani once ate a turtle, farted out a shell, and that shell stopped a speeding bullet. I’VE HEARD IT ALL! Ohtani might be the most hyped player since Henry Rowengartner. And Henry Rowengartner was a 12-year-old who could throw 100 MPH and actually understood advice given by Gary Busey. We’re talking off the charts hype for Ohtani. For this reason, I’m not sure any of us will be able to draft him at a reasonable price. Will an unreasonable price be worth it? P to the erhaps.
As a hitter, Ohtani has been compared to Curtis Granderson in his prime, which is actually a pretty lofty compliment when you consider his pitching is why most teams were clamoring. Allow two GIFs to illustrate:
From Prospector Ralph’s post, “As a pitcher Otani has been described by some as one of the top 5-10 arms in the world. Getting “ace” labels from several unanimous scouts quoted all over the internet. His arsenal is comprised of a 5 pitch mix led by his 80 grade fastball that has been clocked as high as 102, but mostly sits 97-100 MPH with late life and elite command. His secondaries are led by a splitter (swoon) that sits 88-92 with nasty diving action, giving him a classic swing and miss out pitch. Some have gone on record saying the splitter is better than compatriot Masahiro Tanaka’s, and that’s lofty praise. His slider also earns plus and plus-plus grades, and is reported to have two variations, one that’s more like a classic sweeping hard slider with tilt, and another version with more cutter type shape with shorter break. Both are clocked in the low to mid 80’s sitting 82-87, giving him nice separation between his fastball and splitter, his most frequently used offerings. His arsenal is rounded out by an average curveball, and reported changeup.”
“While on the other side of the ball, Otani the lefthanded power hitter has been comped by some to Curtis Granderson, an athletic power hitter, with swing and miss concerns. Scouts have put 70’s on his raw power and 60’s on his game speed, that’s an exciting profile for any potential hitting prospect. Despite the high strikeout totals in Japan he’s not a hack at the plate, showing a patient approach, and ability to work counts, and find his pitch.”
That’s really the nuts and bolts of both sides of the ball. For fantasy, there’s two big issues. 1) Ohtani has never exceeded 160 IP as a pitcher. 2) How do the Angels handle him? The first issue eliminates him from the top 15 starter conversation, which is around a top 50 overall player. You have to pitch 200+ IP to be a top 50 overall player. But can Ohtani be a top 25 starter? His last season in Japan produced K/9 and BB/9 of 10.3 and 1.5, respectively. MLB is better than Nippon leagues, but how much better has been debated. I’ve heard Japan is like Triple-A. That sounds fair, and I’m willing to accept that comparison. Ohtani also only pitched 25 1/3 IP in 2017. If a pitcher only threw 25 1/3 IP in Triple-A last year, you’d have some concerns. The hype is clouding Ohtani’s concerns — cloudcerns? — but I have them. I’m only projecting him for 140 IP this year, and I think that might be optimistic. There’s The Sciosciapath, who has an M.D. (Managing Dementia), which might lead Ohtani to throw 160+ IP, but that would be aggressive and partially criminal to do to him. As for wins and loses:
Angels are saying they’ll let Ohtani pitch and hit and close and play 2nd, SS, 3B, catch, manage and go hunting with Tim Salmon and Darin Erstad. https://t.co/zdyuL3GzKM
— Razzball (@Razzball) December 4, 2017
Angels are now Mike Trout, Shohei Ohtani and pray for rain. Unfortunately, it hasn’t rained in SoCal since 2012. So, it’s 140 IP and a team that is still kinda gnarly. Don’t give me that Justin Upton story. I’ll give you back a guy who hits .185 for two months at a time. Can Shohei Ohtani play 3rd? Because the Angels have a Jefry Marte/Valbuena platoon that sounds good on paper, if that paper is toilet paper. Maybe Ohtani backs into 12 wins. Do you see how hard it is to make Ohtani sound like a top 25 pitcher, let alone a top 15 one? For 2018, I’ll give Shohei Ohtani, the pitcher, projections of 12-4/3.28/1.22/146 in 140 IP. Absolutely solid, not a top 50 overall player.
Now, for Shohei Ohtani, the hitter. Keith Law said Ohtani was clocked as a 80 Speed Score guy, which is, ya know, the same as Billy Hamilton and Dee Gordon. Though, to be fair, those guys are off the Speed Score charts. I watched Ohtani run — he had a some steals in Japan — and I think he’s a 12-15 steal guy if he were to get 500 ABs. Considering he’s also a 27-30 homer guy, that’s impressive. However, 500 ABs is what he’d get if he was mainlining Red Bull and trucker speed, while sniffing a Ron Washington-sized line of the devil’s dandruff. Then, when Ohtani, crashed on the last day of the season, he would self-combust from being run ragged. Ya kinda need a day or two off here and there, unless you’re Cal Ripken, and the most stress Cal Ripken ever put on his arm was giving Gregg Zaun a wedgie. After Ohtani throws 100 pitches in one game, he’s going to get up the next day and play nine innings? Every game? C’mon. The Angels have already said he won’t play outfield, I believe them.
Ohtani only had 109 ABs in the season when he threw 160 IP. In a season with 25 IP, he had 202 ABs. In other words, he’s doing one or the other. I could see him DH’ing once, maybe twice, a week, while pushing Pujols (hehe) to 1st and Cron to the bench, or vice versa. Which is still a lot, and cool AF, but he’s not getting 300 ABs and throwing 140 IP. Ohtani’s arms and legs would literally fall off. People were excited he’d have the DH, but if he were in the NL, he’d at least be guaranteed ABs when he pitches. Now? Not so much. For 2018, I’ll give Shohei Ohtani, the hitter, the projections of 26/11/33/.266/3 in 192 ABs, which is eight at-bats per week.
Finally, how do fantasy sites handle Shohei Ohtani, the pitcher and hitter? I could see some sites taking the easy way out and making two players, one hitter Ohtani, and one pitcher Ohtani. Yes, that means you could own two Ohtani’s on the same team. This is easy because ESPN, Yahoo, et al (not the Israeli airline), only have to add two names to their database. Honestly, if I were them, I’d handle Ohtani like this. If Ohtani struggles to hit major league pitching, and the Angels decide to let him just pitch, those sites haven’t changed their site just to handle one player for only a few months. For these sites, I will be ranking Ohtani, the pitcher, and Ohtani, the hitter. The other option sites have is to insert one Ohtani and allow you to move him from hitter to pitcher, depending on the day. This feels more complicated for sites, and, from what I gather, they don’t like complicated. Yahoo still has Schwarber with 1B, OF, and catcher eligibility because complicated is too much. However, I will rank Ohtani as a dual fantasy guy, as well. It’s going to fun either way, too bad he’s on the Not Even Really A Suburb of Los Angeles Angels.