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Fantasy Reaction of Shohei Ohtani Signing with the Angels

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Jack of all trades. (n.) All the other definitions are wrong. A Jack of all Trades is someone who is decent at everything, but not especially adept at any one thing.

— Urban Dictionary, No. 1


Urban Dictionary is not typically the go-to for defining words or phrases in an article. Especially one written by an author who cares about his future. Try not to get caught in any wormholes on that site either – some terms can get a tad bit vile. However, I found their take on this phrase fitting because it was less sympathetic and, therefore, more of an eye-opener to the people tuned in to the player I want to discuss in this article.

This phrase originated back in the day when ‘Jack’ was the generic name for a common worker in the 14th century. It was used much more derogatorily back then. However, it’s almost become a positive title in today’s culture. I personally feel like a ‘Jack of all trades’ and, while most say that I am well-rounded, I often wonder if there is one thing I am supposed to be exceptional at that I haven’t discovered yet.

Before this turns into a lesson in psychology, let me change directions here to the man of the hour in Major League Baseball.

Shohei Ohtani comes over from Japan to grace us with his presence on fields in the USA. First off, I just want to say that we should all take this chance to watch this pioneer in our league. The two-way player has been dead for awhile now and perhaps Ohtani can change that. Or maybe he risks becoming a ‘Jack of all trades’ instead of becoming dominant at one position?

Well, I’m here to evaluate the different abilities of the ‘Japanese Babe Ruth’ and make sense of what his fantasy value could and should be in 2018 and beyond. There hasn’t been a player as heavily pursued in free agency due to his situation in, well, ever. So, why not do a write-up to make sure we aren’t missing anything?

Fantasy Reaction of Shohei Ohtani Signing with the Angels

Player Profile

Now, time to test the ‘Jack of all trades’ theory.

Ohtani, the Pitcher

As most would proclaim, his pitching prowess excites me most for his fantasy future. At ages 18-22, he threw 543 innings to the tune of a 2.52 ERA, 10.3 K/9, and 3.3 BB/9. Unbelievable statistics for the Nippon Ham Fighters, especially for a guy at his age.

Standing at 6’3″ and 220 lbs, he gets nice sink on his back foot and really drives through the ball with his lower half. He has hit 102+ MPH on multiple occasions with the fastball with command. He works with three off-speed pitches – a splitter, slider, and curveball. The splitter (seen in the GIF above) is his best secondary pitch and is a sick tumbler for hitters of either hand. His slider and curveball need more command, which leads to loss of control of counts. His sheer ability stymied hitters in the NPL, but MLB hitters will lay off of those pitches more often.

Disclaimer: I am not a scout, nor do I pretend to be. That said, for my closest eye test comparison, I think Luis Severino. Both have velocity on all pitches, life at the tail end of a pitch, and command of the fastball. However, concerning his control problems, he may be closer to Lance McCullers. Still, that’s a nice comparison to have considering McCullers had a great season when healthy. McCullers is preseason ranked No. 123 on ESPN’s early rankings and No. 34 at SP.

Ohtani, the Hitter

The Angels have already said that Ohtani will not play outfield this season. He will primarily DH in his off days, likely against right-handed pitching. In over 400 games, he slashed 0.286/0.358/0.500 with 48 HR and 13 SB. He was playing through injury most of last year, which possibly led to deceiving numbers offensively.

I apologize for this, but the only good GIF I could find was of him hitting a lobbed ball a long way. Pay more attention to hip movement, rhythm, and hand position.

He is said to have studied Bryce Harper’s swing the most intently. The swing plane is similar, but Ohtani has more of an inside-out swing with a flat followthrough. Also, it’s a much less violent swing although it’s hard for anyone to match Harper’s bat speed. He’s got a bit of uppercut, which led to a troubling strikeout rate in Japan. However, it’s a polished swing and he definitely is young enough to develop more there should he choose to make some tweaks.

The best statistical comparison as to what I can expect from him when he hits – Jay Bruce. I know, it’s not a sexy name, but as his secondary skill in a major league setting, it’s pretty freaking good. For reference, Bruce was the 72nd best hitter on ESPN’s player rater and should be drafted in the same range for 2018. ESPN’s early rankings has Bruce ranked at No. 138 overall, although, again, Ohtani isn’t hitting every day or close to it.

Angelic Atmosphere

Just last week, Ohtani narrowed his potential landing spots from 27 to just 7. As his decision got closer, the contenders made themselves known. The Angels and Mariners made trades to acquire more international pool money to make their final effort. Ohtani ultimately chose the Angels and now we have a chance to analyze his surroundings.

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New Digs

The stadium plays more to his pitching side than the hitting side, which is greedily what I like to see here. We all wanted him to sign with an AL team, right? Well, Angel Stadium is probably the best option for limiting runs in the AL besides the Oakland Coliseum. The park certainly limits home runs according to multiple sources that calculate park factors.

Speaking of division rivals, he will also get to pitch against a weaker division than most. Sure, you have the defending champion Astros, but the Rangers, Mariners, and Athletics shouldn’t scare anyone in their current state. Three of the four parks are considered pitchers’ parks and that certainly helps.

Trout & the Fishermen

Don’t look now, but the Angels are trying to make moves to become a better offense around Mike Trout. The signing of Justin Upton to play left field is massive. They are in the market for more talent in the Winter Meetings. They need continued success from Andrelton Simmons and bounce backs from Albert Pujols and Kole Calhoun. Run support should not be a major issue for Ohtani on his new squad.

Speaking of Pujols, this move may just make him a fantasy nightmare in 2018. He will be in line for much more rest when Ohtani hits with CJ Cron able to man first base. Pujols had a down year in 2017 and the Angels may be looking to limit his workload moving forward. He is at ‘do not draft’ status for me.
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Initial Ranking

As a pitcher alone, I will have Ohtani as a fringe SP2/strong SP3. I know his command is an issue, but you just don’t get this kind of talent at this age. Think about early on too: these teams won’t have any usable film on him until midway through the season. He’s going to be fooling hitters until then with his overpowering stuff. This is a typical trait of players coming from overseas – remember how hot Eric Thames started in 2017 before the tape caught up to him?

As a hitter alone, he’s undraftable. If he’s not playing the outfield, then he will only be eligible to play in your UT slot. That, plus probably an upside of three games a week at the dish and it’s just not worth it.

As a multi-dimensional player, as most sites will employ him, things get interesting. As mentioned in the player profile, he could be an auto-start pitcher and a Jay Bruce-caliber hitter two-or-three times a week. This gives you great flexibility in daily transactions leagues. I would probably rank him in the top 100 in that format, but odds are that his ADP will rise significantly between now and when the draft season intensifies.

About Tyler Thompson

Follow me on Twitter at @therealwody. For all the latest news and best advice out there, like us on Facebook, Google+ and Instagram.

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