Shohei Otani, Nokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters pitcher/outfielder is widely considered the best baseball player outside Major League Baseball (MLB.) The 22-year-old is tagged as the closest thing to a modern-day Babe Ruth.
The Philadelphia Phillies are reportedly interested in Otani. However, the man from Oshu, Iwate Prefecture, Japan has again been hit by injury. The 6-ft-4 designated hitter will miss six additional weeks due to a strained thigh he suffered while legging out of an infield single. It has to be noted that the player already skipped the World Baseball Classic due to an ankle injury, as reported by the Associated Press.
“Japanese baseball player Shohei Otani will be sidelined for about six weeks because of a left-thigh muscle strain, his team said on Sunday. Otani, who is expected to move to Major League Baseball in 2018, hurt his left leg trying to beat out an infield single.”
Phillies will get Otani on the cheap
Otani has so far hit .407/.469/.815 in eight games. With MLB’s new collective bargaining agreement (CBA), it’s unclear whether the Japanese sensation will head to the majors this winter.
Under MLB’s new CBA, any international player under the age of 25 is now capped at a $6 million signing bonus. The Phillies should make a push for Otani because he would be relatively cheap at age 22. Otani has revealed that he is not looking to wait three more years when the chance for a bigger pay day would open up.
“Personally, I don’t care how much I get paid. I also don’t care how much less I get paid because of this,” Otani said to Jon Wertheim of 60 Minutes.
Otani’s numbers are sensational for Nippon
Otani’s numbers are amazing for Nippon. He has thrown the fastest pitch in league history at 102.5 mph. As a starting pitcher last season, he went 10-4 with a 1.86 ERA and averaged 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings.
His four-year pitching record for Nippon is 39-13 with a 2.49 ERA and 595 strikeouts. The 2016 season was Otani’s best year at the plate. He hit .322 with 22 home runs and 67 RBIs. This performance earned him the league’s MVP.
“You think about a guy who throws 101 (mph) and then a guy who hits home runs and that’s a comic-book character. That’s not somebody you’re thinking about in real life. You know, nobody does that. Who does that?” John Gibson, who has reported Japanese baseball for over 20 years, told CBS.
However, Otani must look forward to recovering from his fitness. This is because wherever he plays, he has to stay on the field and be the star of the show.
Photo courtesy: Ship1231/Wikimedia