Dodgers: The Positives and Negatives of Signing Shohei Ohtani

TOKYO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 13: Pinch hitter Shohei Ohtani
TOKYO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 13: Pinch hitter Shohei Ohtani /

Shohei Ohtani is one of the big names trending in the offseason market right now, and the Dodgers, as always, is in the mix. Interestingly though, the Dodgers have the resources to pull the trigger on him easily, so why not?

Negatives of Shohei Ohtani

The Japanese “Babe Ruth” is what they call him because of his ability to both hit and pitch. A talent like him hasn’t been seen in a long time, but many have tried. A clear negative is the risk factor for Ohtani, whether he’ll be able to hit or pitch in the big leagues in general. Ike Davis was talented at both, but struggled mightily at the plate and took another shot at pitching this past season. Rick Ankiel was a pitcher but struggled in the Majors and converted himself into a hitter and did somewhat better. The reports on Ohtani make it seem like he’ll be able to continue his craft in the Majors but that doubt he can’t exist for a reason.

Another negative for Ohtani are his injuries. Being a two-way player, the body takes a lot of toll. Ohtani missed the World Baseball Classic with an ankle injury and is nursing an upper thigh injury as of now. Injuries are unavoidable, but frequent injuries at age 23 concerns, especially lower body injuries. There’s no point in having a two-way star if he can’t use his legs.

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The third negative is his desire to be a star. Ohtani’s expressed more interest in Seattle and San Diego it seems because those are two franchises where he can establish himself as the face. Unfortunately and fortunately for the Dodgers, take your number and wait after Clayton Kershaw, Justin Turner, Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, and Kenley Jansen. This attitude is concerning because a player’s mindset can affect his performance, and his demeanor can affect team chemistry, which the Dodgers have shipped off star players to build.

Positives of Shohei Ohtani

The stuff. It’s one thing where a player can be a two-way star, and then where they should be a two-way star. Synthesizing reports on Ohtani, it seems like he has A+ stuff both ways. He has a power fastball and a good splitter and slider to complement it. In 517.2 professional innings, he owns a 2.49 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, and strikes out about ten batters per nine innings. He’s only allowed 22 home runs during that span but has given up 181 walks which is a concern.

He hasn’t seen consistent hitting opportunities, so his production is up and down. He’s hit 48 home runs, hit .286, struck out 316 times and walked 119 in over a thousand plate appearances in his professional career. His best season was in 2016 when he hit 22 home runs and hit .322 in 382 plate appearances. However, his season has been as unproductive as the year before that when he only hit .202 with five home runs in over 119 plate appearances.

If Ohtani can both hit and pitch, that would be the ultimate versatility that the Dodgers have become known for. Every position player can and has played at least one other position in their Dodger career. Additionally, every pitcher can be put into any inning, with the exception of Jansen starting.

The last positive for Ohtani is the wow factor. He is the first legitimate two-way threat to come close to the big leagues in a while. Why not take a risk on him? If he’s a bust, at least you can choose how to use him. But if he’s a boom, he will hit the league like a storm.

Next: Sorting through the Dodgers winter rumors

So those are some positives and negatives of Shohei Ohtani. I’m not sure of him myself, but there are persuasive arguments for both signing him and not. As of now, the Dodgers aren’t his top choice, and he isn’t at the top of the Dodgers’ shortlist. One thing is for sure, watching how he performs in the Major Leagues will be the topic of Opening Day.