Shohei Ohtani, born on July 5, 1994, is a professional baseball player from Oshu city in Iwate prefecture and he is currently playing for the MLB team Los Angeles Angels. He is a right handed pitcher and left handed hitter, and he is known for his “Two-Way” style, meaning that he is the first player in the history of professional baseball that can pitch and field at the same time.
He recorded the first 160km/h pitch in amateur baseball history while he was in Hanamaki Higashi High School, which instantly made his name known in the baseball world. It was predicted that many teams would be interested in picking him in the professional baseball draft, but even MLB teams had their eyes set on him. After discussions with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Rangers, and Boston Red Sox, he announced his intention to start his career in MLB.
Almost every NPB team gave up and withdrew their chance to pick him after hearing Ohtani’s announcement. As a result, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters acquired the rights to draft Ohtani in the first round without competition. Ohtani had initially rejected their offer to join the Fighters, but by the end of the 4th negotiations, when he was offered the jersey number 11,
which was previously worn by Yu Darvish, and proposed a plan to make him a two-way player, he accepted their offer and decided to join the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters
After joining the team in 2013, he played in exhibition games and other matches as the pitcher, right fielder, and designated hitter. He was even able to make it as a batter in the top team in the opening match, while actually being registered as a pitcher. In the opening game of the season against the Saitama Seibu Lions on March 29, he was in the starting lineup as the no. 8 right fielder and already made 2 hits and 1 RBI.
He had his first match as a starting pitcher on May 23 against the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, where he gave up 2 points in 5 innings. While the outcome wasn’t ideal, he did record a 157 km/h pitch, which is the fastest pitch a rookie has ever made in their first appearance, and in the match against the Chunichi Dragons on June 1, he won his first professional game, while demonstrating his crowd pleasing two-way style
Overall, his results were a bit lackluster in his first year. As a pitcher he won 3 games, and as a batter he managed a batting average of .238 with a total of 45 hits and 3 home runs.
However, in his 2nd year, in the 2014 season, Shohei Ohtani’s two-way style started steadily improving. This was the year when he won his first slugger award, piled up double digit strikeouts, and achieved a shutout win. On top of that, for 4 games in a row he recorded 160 km/h pitches, which is the record fastest pitch the Pacific League.
By both pitching and batting, he grew to become an indispensable part of the team. As a pitcher, he won 11 games and lost 4, with a 2.61 ERA; and as a batter he hit .274, with 10 home runs and 31 RBIs. He finished an excellent season with no blemishes.
The next year, in 2015, his batting around the year left a lot to be desired, but his pitching had reached new heights. He not only played in the opening game, but he won 15 games in the season with a 2.24 ERA, and he won the Triple Crown with the most wins, highest winning percentage at .750 and best ERA. He was also the pitcher in the Japan national team for the WBSC Premier12 that was held in the off-season, where he won the Best Nine award for his excellent pitching in the 2 games against South Korea.
The following 2016 season turned out to be Ohtanis’s greatest season yet. As a pitcher, he broke the NPB record for fastest pitch at 165 km/h, and won 10 and lost 4 matches. As a batter, he hit .322 with 22 home runs and 67 RBIs. He had stable results in both fields and he achieved NPB’s first 10 wins, 100 hits and 20 home runs.
Not to mention, he was the key figure in helping the Fighters win the Pacific League championship and helped dominate the Japan Series. He was the first player in history to win the Pacific League Best Nine award for both pitching and batting.
In 2017, his injuries forced him to abandon the Japan national team for the WBC and also severely hindered his performance in the middle of the season. However, during the off-season, he used the posting system and announced his plans to move to MLB. His team also acknowledged his wishes. On Decebmer 8, it was publicly announced that he had signed a contract with the Los Angeles Angels. Now people are waiting to see him continue his two-way style in MLB.