Fantasy Baseball: Shohei Ohtani to the Angels

Angels Ohtani Pitcher

Shohei Ohtani allowed someone else to have the limelight for less than 24 hours. The Seattle Mariners looked to be making an addition of a speedster before welcoming the young Japanese talent to their team. However, it was not to be for the North West ball club as Ohtani has chosen their division rival Los Angeles Angels as his destination. Reportedly the Angels are the only team that would agree to let Ohtani play every day either as a pitcher or hitter and that was the deciding factor for him.

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As a pitcher you cannot question his talent and the stats in the Japanese league speak for themselves. A career 2.52 ERA with a K/9 of 10.3 is more than impressive numbers to be entering the MLB with. How will he perform in the MLB is the big question right now. For contrast I decided to have a look at how Yu Darvish did in his first season in the majors. Taking into account Ohtani has picked a better pitchers park than Texas we can see that Darvish had a fairly even season across the two halves of the year finishing the season with a 3.90 ERA and 10.4 K/9. He did have a wobble in July and August but given the differences in the load a pitcher has to shoulder between the two leagues that isn’t a massive surprise and I think we will see a similar pattern from Ohtani.

In his first season in the majors there will rightfully be caution for the young man from a pitching point of view and that will be baked into his fantasy value. There is also the interesting aspect of how fantasy leagues will handle him. Some sites have already said there will be two Ohtani’s with one as a hitter eligible player and one as a pitcher. Let’s look at the pitcher first, then the hitter and finally the possibility of a league where one Ohtani will be able to play both.

Pitching does traditionally transfer well and Ohtani has a mean fastball which should help him cause batters issues. Right now I am looking the round 7/8 region just simply on the upside he offers me there. I would like him as my 3rd pitcher at the highest and my 4th ideally so if the value rises to the point where is my #2 then I will probably walk away from him.

Angels Ohtani

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As a hitter Los Angeles is an interesting choice because they have three good outfielders in Calhoun, Trout and Upton as well as a clear DH/1B pair in Pujols and Cron. Instinctively I don’t see where he fits there but given that it’s likely he will only hit when he is not pitching then they might be able to rotate Cron, Calhoun and Pujols in such a way as to get him in most days. Personally given that Japanese hitters can be slow to adjust and the question marks he is a lower end guy as a hitter eligible fantasy player. He doesn’t offer extreme power or speed (he did hit 22 HRs in 323 ABs in 2016 but only had 8 HRs last year) and can he keep that 0.300+ average in the majors? There is definitely potential but right now as a hitter he is going to be a double digit round pick at best. If they somehow get him hitting every day then the upside would deserve a pick close to the 10th but that is an optimistic view right now.

Lastly let’s look at his combined value. Now that is a real question because a draft pick who can contribute to 9 categories is incredible and makes him worth of a top 50 pick as far as I am concerned. There will be issues such as you likely having to commit him to hitting or pitching before the game starts meaning any relief or pinch hit appearances could get lost but even so being able to get even 3/5 days as a hitter and then 1/5 as a pitcher is essentially worth two draft picks. Even if he doesn’t perform as well as a top 50 hitter or pitcher in those individual stats the fact one guy can serve as two players will make Ohtani incredibly valuable if leagues handle him in this way.

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