Shohei Ohtani - Biography

Shohei Ohtani, sometimes known as 'Shotime,' is a Major League Baseball pitcher, designated hitter, and outfielder for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (MLB). He formerly played for the Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) Pacific League's Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters.

The Fighters selected Ohtani first overall in the 2012 draught. From 2013 until 2017, he was a pitcher and outfielder with the Fighters in NPB. At 165 kilometres per hour, Ohtani set the record for the fastest pitch by a Japanese pitcher and in NPB history (102.5 mph). After the 2017 season, the Fighters released Ohtani, who signed with the Angels. He was named Rookie of the Year in the American League in 2018.

Childhood

Shohei Ohtani attended Hanamaki Higashi High School in Northern Japan's Iwate Prefecture. As a high school pitcher, he had a fastball that reached 160 km/h (99 mph). In the Japanese national high school baseball championship event, known as Summer Koshien, he threw the first pitch.

Ohtani had a 0–1 win–loss record at the 2012 18U Baseball World Championship, with 16 strikeouts, eight walks, five hits, five runs, and a 4.35 earned run average in 1013 innings pitched.

Many organisations, including the Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, and Los Angeles Dodgers, expressed interest in Ohtani when he indicated a desire to transfer straight to the major leagues following high school. He stated on October 21, 2012, that instead of turning professional in Japan, he will pursue a career in Major League Baseball.

Despite the fact that he was unlikely to play for them, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters chose to pick him nevertheless. But, following an exclusive negotiation window with the Fighters, Ohtani revealed that he will sign with the team and play in Japan for a few years before returning to the United States.

The Los Angeles Dodgers, who had been Ohtani's preferred MLB team, were not willing to let him play both ways, but Hokkaido announced he would be able to pitch and play position. He was given the number 11 jersey, which had previously been worn by Yu Darvish.

Life

Since 2017, Ohtani has been represented by CAA Sports agent Nez Balelo.

Ohtani was included in Time's list of the 100 most important people in the world in 2021.

Rookie year (2013)

On March 29, 2013, at the age of 18, Ohtani made his professional baseball debut as a right fielder for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in their season opener. He was chosen for a Pacific League All-Star Game roster slot in 2013. He has a 3–0 record in 11 starts as a pitcher this season. As a rookie, Ohtani saw action in the outfield (leading the Fighters with 51 games in right field) and as a pitcher.

Following Kikuo Tokunaga in 1951, he was the second Nippon Pro Baseball rookie recruited out of high school the previous year to be utilised as both a pitcher and a position player; Ohtani was the first to start in both roles.

Despite his lacklustre stats, the high-profile rookie was voted into the All-Star Game by the fans. In 61 2/3 innings, he went 3–0 with a 4.23 ERA, 33 walks to 46 strikeouts, and a.238/.284/.376 batting line in 204 plate appearances. He had seven outfield assists and only one outfield mistake.

In the 2013 Pacific League, his eight hit batters tied for fifth place with Manabu Mima, Tadashi Settsu, Hideaki Wakui, and Ryoma Nogami. For the 2013 Nippon Professional Baseball Rookie of the Year Award (Pacific League), he received 4 of the 233 votes, tying Tatsuya Sato for second place behind Takahiro Norimoto.

Ohtani while playing the match
NPB All-Star selection for the second time in 2014

Ohtani doubled both a pitcher and outfielder for the whole season, utilising both his powerful throwing arm and his outstanding hitting abilities. He batted.274 in 212 at-bats, with 28 extra-base hits (including 10 home runs), 31 RBIs, and a.842 on-base plus slugging percentage.

In 24 starts as a pitcher, he was 11–4 with a 2.61 ERA and 179 strikeouts (third in NPB) in 155.1 innings. His 10.4 K/9 was the league's best, and opponents only hit.223 against him.

In the bottom of the first inning of the Mazda All-Star Game in July 2014, he threw a 162 km/h (101 mph) fastball, breaking the previous mark of 161 km/h (100 mph) established by the Yakult Swallows' Yoshinori Sato in 2010. The shirt he wore during the game was the top-seller in the All-Star 2014 Charity Auction, selling for 1,752,000 yen ($17,000).

The money was given to three relief funds for children affected by the Tohoku earthquake. Ohtani threw the quickest pitch by a Japanese pitcher in an official game on October 5 against the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, tying Marc Kroon's all-time record for NPB pitchers. In the first inning, the pitch was thrown at lead-off batter Akaminai Ginji.

Ohtani broke Ginji's bat in half with a fastball that measured 162 km/h (101 mph) on the stadium radar gun with the count 0–1. He also hit 162 km/h twice against Aoi Enomoto, the second batter. In the first inning, eight of his 15 pitches were in the 160s and 99s in MPH.

During the postseason, Ohtani was selected for the Samurai Japan national team and played in the Suzuki All-Star Series, a five-game friendly match with a team of big leaguers. He pitched one shutout inning in relief in game one, retiring three hitters in a row. After Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2001, he became the second player out of high school in NPB history to earn 100 million yen in his third year.

His new contract more than quadrupled his prior pay, which was thought to be in the region of 30 million yen.

NPB All-Star selection for the second time in 2014
Pitcher Best Nine and ERA Leader in the Pacific League (2015)

Ohtani's third professional season began in 2015. (and second full season). Though his hitting productivity dropped slightly (5 home runs), his pitching performance was among the best in the league, earning him a berth in the 2015 All-Star Game as a starter and a spot among the Pacific League's Best Nine pitchers.

In the 2015 Premier 12, Ohtani was unstoppable for the Japanese national team. Before Norimoto relieved, he touched 100 mph while blowing away eventual champion South Korea (10 K, 2 H, 2 BB, 0 R in 6 IP). He was much sharper when he faced South Korea in the semifinals (11 K, 0 BB, 1 HB, 1 H in 7 IP).

He didn't allow a hit until Keun-woo Jeong singled in the seventh inning, and he set a Premier 12 record for most whiffs in a game. Norimoto entered the game with a 3–0 lead, but he and two other relievers combined to give up four runs in the ninth inning, allowing Japan to lose in a surprising fashion.

He topped the tournament in ERA (Scott Diamond had 12 innings with a 0.00 ERA compared to Ohtani's 13) and strikeouts (one more than Chun-Lin Kuo), while also allowing the lowest average by a starting pitcher. He was awarded the event's All-Star SP (Sho Nakata was the only other member of Samurai Japan to be picked for the All-Star team).

Ohtani while playing fro japan's team
Most Valuable Player of the Pacific League (2016)

In 2016, Ohtani hit 22 home runs in 104 games and 382 plate appearances. He also had 18 doubles, 67 RBI, a.322 batting average with a.416 on-base percentage, 65 runs scored, and 7 stolen bases. As the designated hitter, he received the Best Nine award. On the mound, Ohtani was the same powerful pitcher. He had a 1.86 ERA in 21 games pitched, which was a career low.

He went 10–4 with 174 strikeouts in 140 innings, four complete games, and one shutout. He also earned the Pacific League MVP and the Best Nine title as a pitcher. He received over double the number of votes for the PL in the 2016 NPB All-Star Game, with 300,025 votes to #2 Shota Takeda's 158,008.

In the PL, he was tied for eighth in wins and third in strikeouts.

He led Nippon Ham to the 2016 Japan Series, but lost the first game against the Hiroshima Carp; he struck out 11 batters in 6 innings, but allowed three runs, two on a home run by Brad Eldred and one on a stolen base by Seiya Suzuki. He came up huge as the DH in game 3 when the team was down two games to zero, earning three singles, a run, and an RBI.

He singled off Daichi Osera to score Nishikawa with the game-winning run in the bottom of the 10th inning; Nippon Ham would win the next three games to capture their second Japan Series title. Brandon Laird, a teammate, would be named Series MVP.

He received 253 of the 254 first-place votes (Naoki Miyanishi received the other one) and one second-place vote in the 2016 Pacific League Most Valuable Player Award. He received 1,268 votes, compared to 298 for Laird, the runner-up.

Ohtani as MVP Pacific League
2017 Season

He appeared in 65 games in 2017, hitting.332 with eight home runs and 31 RBIs while pitching 3–2, 3.20 with 29 strikeouts. Ohtani requested to be placed on the disabled list at the end of the season in order to play in Major League Baseball in 2018. However, he underwent surgery on his right ankle in early October, which prevented that.

The injury happened during the 2016 Japan Series, and it lost him a spot in the 2017 World Baseball Classic as well as limiting his playing time during the season. The possibility of a posting deal between the NPB and the MLB was questioned. On November 21, 2017, the parties reached an agreement.

Ohtani was susceptible to international signing regulations because he was under the age of 25 at the time. This reduced his bonus to $3.557 million and restricted him to a rookie salary scale, while the signing team was also had to pay the Fighters a $20 million posting fee.

As a result, all 30 teams could afford to go for Ohtani. It's been said that if Ohtani had waited until he was 25 to be released, he might have commanded a $200 million multi-year contract, though no teams have made such an offer. Ohtani chose the Angels over the Dodgers, Giants, Padres, Mariners, Rangers, and Cubs as his finalists, signing a $2.315 million bonus with the Angels.

Ohtani while hitting the ball
Los Angeles Angels

Ohtani signed a contract with the Los Angeles Angels on December 8, 2017. The deal was completed the next day. Ohtani was diagnosed with a first-degree UCL sprain in his right elbow on December 13, according to reports. To treat the injuries, he was given a platelet-rich plasma injection.

Ohtani with Los Angeles Angels Jersey
2018: American League Rookie of the Year

On Opening Day, March 29, against the Oakland Athletics, Ohtani was named to the 25-man roster and began as the designated hitter. In his first at-bat, he singled. He made his MLB debut on April 1, striking out six batters in six innings despite allowing three runs to earn his first victory.

Ohtani blasted his first MLB home run on April 3 against Josh Tomlin, a 397-foot three-run blast. He hit his second home run the next day, becoming him the first Angels player to hit two home runs in his first two home games. Through his first three professional games, he equaled the team records with 12 total bases and five RBI.

On July 2, Ohtani was reinstated as a bat off the injured list and went 0-for-4 against the Seattle Mariners. Ohtani blasted two home runs against the Cleveland Indians on August 3, marking his first career multiple-home run game as well as his first two home runs on the road.

After an 11-week layoff, Angels manager Mike Scioscia confirmed that Ohtani will start the September 2 game against the Houston Astros. Despite throwing just 49 pitches across 213 innings and allowing only two runs, he became the first big leaguer in over a century to smash 15 home runs and pitch 50 innings in the same season, a feat accomplished by Babe Ruth in 1919.

On September 7, Ohtani hit his 19th home run of the season, breaking the Japanese rookie home run record. After an MRI revealed additional damage to his UCL, physicians advised that Ohtani have Tommy John surgery, according to ESPN on September 3, 2018. On September 25, the Angels revealed that Ohtani had consented to the surgery, which will keep him off the mound until 2020.

Billy Eppler, the Angels' general manager, confirmed on October 1 that Ohtani had had successful Tommy John surgery. He was selected the American League Rookie of the Year on November 12th.

Ohtani while throwing the ball
2019 Season

On May 7, 2019, Ohtani batted as a designated hitter against the Detroit Tigers in his first game with the Angels after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Ohtani became the first Japanese-born player to hit for the cycle in MLB history on June 13 against the Tampa Bay Rays. Ohtani's 2019 season was cut short on September 12 when it was found that he needed surgery to repair a bipartite patella.

In 106 games, he hit.286/.343/.505 with 18 home runs, 62 RBIs, and 12 stolen bases.

Ohtani in the match
2020 Season

In a game against the Oakland Athletics on July 24, 2020, Ohtani became the first ever automatic player on second base in an official MLB game at the start of the 10th inning as part of one of the new 2020 MLB season regulations. In a rundown, he was kicked out. Ohtani returned to the mound on July 26, 2020, against the Oakland Athletics, for the first time since September 2018.

It did not go as planned, as he gave up five runs and was pulled from the game without recording an out, giving him a loss and an infinite ERA to begin the season. Ohtani began to suffer discomfort in his right arm following his second start of the season against the Houston Astros, and an MRI later confirmed that he had a flexor strain in his right elbow.

Ohtani will not throw for the remainder of the season, according to Angels manager Joe Maddon. In 43 games, Ohtani batted.190/.291/.366 with seven home runs, 24 RBIs, and seven stolen bases.

Ohtani while playig a match in 2020 season
2021 Season

On February 8, Ohtani and the Angels agreed to a two-year, $8.5 million contract, avoiding arbitration.

On April 4, 2021, he made his debut pitching start against the Chicago White Sox on Sunday Night Baseball, throwing 423 innings and surrendering one earned run and two unearned runs. He struck out seven hitters in the start. Ohtani also batted second in the order. He went 1 for 3 with a solo home run of 450 feet on the first pitch he saw.

On June 18, Ohtani became the first pitcher and the first Japanese player to be elected to the 2021 Home Run Derby. After hitting six home runs and picking up a victory as a starting pitcher, Ohtani was awarded AL Player of the Week for the third time in his career three days later.

He was awarded AL Player of the Week for the fourth time in his career two weeks later after hitting six home runs and posting a 1.543 OPS with eight RBIs in six games to lead the Angels to a 5-1 record. On June 23, he made history yet again when he batted for himself as a pitcher and the second batter in the order against the Giants, marking the first time in MLB history that an American League team did not employ a designated hitter while a National League team did.

Ohtani was awarded the American League Player of the Month for June for the first time in his career, after hitting.309/.423/.889 with 13 home runs and a 1.312 OPS as a hitter and earning two wins as a pitcher. Ohtani became the first player in American League history to hit 30 home runs and steal 10 bases in the first 81 games of the season on July 3 against the Baltimore Orioles.

On July 4, Ohtani made history by being the first player to be named to both the position player and pitcher All-Star teams. On July 1, he was picked by the players as one of five starting pitchers to make the American League roster, and on July 4, he was voted by the public as the starting designated hitter for the 2021 All-Star Game.

On July 7, Ohtani hit his 32nd home run of the season, a single drive off Boston Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodrguez, overtaking Hideki Matsui for the most home runs hit by a Japanese-born player in an MLB season, which he set in 2004. Ohtani also received the ESPY Award for Best Major League Baseball Athlete, making him the first Japanese player to do so.

On July 12, Ohtani took part in the Home Run Derby. He blasted 22 home runs in the first round, matching him with opponent Juan Soto. Ohtani and Soto were deadlocked at 28 home runs in the tiebreaker round. While Soto won the round after a second tiebreaker, Ohtani established a Derby record with six home runs of at least 500 feet.

Ohtani got $150,000 for competing in the Derby, which he then donated to around 30 Angels support employees, including trainers, clubhouse workers, and media relations staffers, to reward them for their efforts. Ohtani has made the decision to spend the money in this way regardless of the outcome of the Derby.

Ohtani became the first pitcher in league history to record 100 strikeouts and a major-league-leading 35 home runs before the end of July, when he faced the Colorado Rockies in his 15th pitching start of the season. No pitcher had ever recorded triple-digit strikeouts and added more than nine home runs in the same season.

In the same game, Ohtani became the first pitcher in the American League to throw a scoreless top half while also recording a single, an RBI, a stolen base, and a run scored since Luis Tiant of the Minnesota Twins on April 26, 1970. He became the first left-handed batter in Angels history to hit 40 home runs on August 19, breaking Reggie Jackson's mark of 39 set in 1982.

On August 28, Ohtani would steal his 20th base in a game against the San Diego Padres, making him the first Japanese-born player and the first player in Angels history to hit 40 home runs and steal 20 bases in the same season. He became the third AL player to accomplish this accomplishment before September, after Alex Rodriguez in 2007 and Ken Griffey Jr. in 1999. And he became the first AL player since Curtis Granderson in 2011 to attain both of those totals in a season.

Ohtani in the pitch
WBSC

In 2012, Ohtani was named to Japan's Under-18 National Team, which placed sixth in the 18U Baseball World Championship in Seoul, Korea.

Ohtani was a bronze medalist with the Samurai Japan National Baseball Team at the 2015 Premier12. He led Japan's pitching staff, which also included Kenta Maeda. Ohtani had two appearances for Japan as the number one starter, both against the Republic of Korea, winning Game 1 of the opening round and receiving a no-decision in the semifinals. Ohtani was selected the 2015 WBSC Baseball Player of the Year and was chosen to the 2015 World Baseball Softball Confederation All-World Team.

Ohtani at WBSC
Pitching

Ohtani is a 6-foot-4-inch (1.93 m) right-handed starting pitcher who weighs 210 pounds (95 kg). He throws a four-seam fastball averaging 97 mph (156 km/h) with a maximum speed of 102.5 mph (165 km/h), an 86–88 mph (138–142 km/h) forkball with late diving action, an infrequent curveball, and a strong slider at 82–84 mph (132–135 km/h) with an overhand motion. In his NPB career, he has a 3.3 BB/9 (walks per 9 innings rate). Some MLB scouts have compared Ohtani to Justin Verlander.

At bat and on the field

Ohtani bats using his left hand. He is a designated hitter and outfielder who is recognised for his ability to smash home runs. Ohtani has been timed racing from the batter's box to first base in as short as 3.8 seconds, according to scouts.

Ohtani while batting
Endorsements

Ohtani inked an exclusive multiyear memorabilia agreement with Fanatics on July 20, 2021.

Ohtani has an estimated $6 million in annual sponsorship deals with MLB as of July 2021, which puts him in first place in the league. In Japan, he endorses Asics, Descente, Japan Airlines, Nishikawa Co., and Seiko Watch, whereas in the United States, he endorses Hugo Boss, New Era, Panini, Fanatics, Oakley, and Topps.

Ohtani signing for fanatics team.