Well of course he does, but this is about how and why MLB has adjusted its game to make room for the Shohei Ohtani two-way player phenomenon on Friday by changing its rules to make the non-English speaking face of the game even more prominent.
Ohtani’s two-way career may have gotten started in Japan, but it started here only because his 100-mph fastball gave the high schooler the leverage to turn down the Nippon Ham Fighters and sign with an MLB club. To be fair, Ohtani and the Fighters deserve credit for his development in an environment basically hostile to the idea of a two-way player.
Let’s face it, Ohtani only became the AL’s 2018 rookie of the year and 2021 MVP because teams knew in December 2017 that if they wanted his fastball and splitter, they had to suck it up and let Ohtani try to hit MLB pitching, even if they didn’t want to and didn’t believe it was possible.
Any baseball person who tells you they saw Ohtani as a slugging high school pitcher in Japan and thought at the time he could be a two-way pro is full of shit.
Pro baseball around the world believed in specialization, and no one was going to tell it differently. Nippon Ham was certainly no exception.Continue reading Ohtani rules