MLB.com , the official major league media outlet, said on Tuesday (Korea time), “Shohei Otani has adapted to the environment of the Major League Baseball and the U.S. during his six seasons with the Angels. And the superstar of the Dodgers quickly became the most influential and fascinating player in the Major League. However, Otani arrived at Dodgers spring training early this week and has to adapt again to a new environment. This is the opportunity he has been looking for.”
Ohtani, who made his name as a pitcher and hitter in the Japanese pro baseball league, announced his move to the Major League with keen interest after the end of the 2017 season. He started his career by signing with the Angels among countless other major league teams that he wanted to recruit. He rose to stardom immediately after winning the American League Rookie of the Year award in 2018.
Having suffered some difficulties since then, Ohtani has become one of the top stars in the Major League by winning the American League MVP award unanimously in 2021 by posting a batting average of 25.7 in 155 games (138 hits in 537 at-bats) with 46 homers and 100 RBIs OPS.965, and a pitcher with 9 wins, 2 losses and an ERA of 3.18 in 23 games (130 ⅓ innings). In 2022, Ohtani ranked second in the MVP voting by falling behind Aaron Judge of the Yankees, who broke the American League’s new home run record (62 home runs), but last year, he won the second unanimous MVP award by posting a batting average of .344 in 135 games (151 hits in 497 at-bats) with 44 homers and 95 RBIs OPS of 1.066 and a pitcher with 10 wins, 5 losses and an ERA of 3.14 in 23 games (132 innings). Ohtani is the first player in the Major League to win the MVP award twice.
Ohtani, who emerged as the best superstar in the Major League with a batting average of 274 (681 hits in 2,483 at-bats) of 171 homers and 437 RBIs with an OPS.922 and a record of 38 wins, 19 losses and 3.01 ERA in 86 games (481 ⅔ innings), came to the FA market after the end of last season and signed a 10-year, 700 million-dollar contract with the Dodgers, which thrilled the baseball world. It is the largest contract in professional sports history that exceeds Mike Trout’s 12-year, 426.5 million-dollar extension contract, as well as Lionel Messi’s $674 million-dollar contract with Barcelona.
Ohtani, who is preparing for the season at Dodgers camp, said, “I’m on a new team now. That’s why I’m going to act like a rookie. And I’m going to try to get along with my new teammates.”
Ohtani will make his Dodgers debut in the Seoul Series against the San Diego Padres at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on March 20 and 21. Ohtani, who underwent elbow surgery in September last year, will not be able to play as a pitcher this year, but he is expected to be able to make it to the opening of the season as a batter. Ohtani said he was “very confident” about playing in the opening game.
“Otani will be watching live pitching in the near future and moving on from batting to the next,” MLB.com explained. “I think it’s important to get an understanding from both sides. The team needs to know what I’m doing and I need to know what the team is trying to do. So at this point, we need to try to be on the same page and move forward.”
Ohtani will concentrate on batting this season. Since Tommy John surgery (elbow ligament joint surgery) in October 2018, Ohtani has played as a designated hitter again in 2019. On whether he will play in this season, Ohtani said, “This is not the first time that I am rehabbing while preparing for the season. I did it in 2019, so I know how to play. The second one will be easy.”