He stands 6’5″ like a Dave Winfield or Darryl Strawberry at the plate — but he brings the heat from the mound like Randy Johnson. In other words, Shohei Otani — baseball’s only real two-way man — is a hammerer and a hurler the likes of which baseball hasn’t seen since Babe Ruth, who also pitched and hit, though he eventually gave up the former for the latter. Otani, who plays with Japan’s Nippon-Ham Fighters , does both and intends to keep doing both. At least for a while.
Why isn’t Otani, like many of his great countrymen (Ichiro, et al), playing in the MLB? He’ll get here, barring something extraordinary happening. It’s just that Otani decided to do the equivalent of his minor league training at home, readying himself for his inevitable MLB payday in Japan’s NPB. Will he go both ways in the US? It’s hard to imagine. Playing in the Japan league, things like ERA and other stats don’t easily translate. But sportswriter Arden Zwelling reports that last year Otani threw a fastball 102.5 mph. That doesn’t need any translation. Here’s Zwelling’s long detailed Otani profile.