American League, Anaheim, Angel Nation, Angel Stadium, Angels, baseball, Halos, Japan, Los Angeles Angels, Major League Baseball, MLB, Nippon Ham Fighters, Nippon Professional Baseball, Orange County, Shohei Ohtani, World Series, Yomiuri Giants
I freely, and am not one bit ashamed, to say that I was wrong as far as which team I saw Shohei Ohtani going to begin his career in Major League Baseball.
I was also a little surprised, as I thought Ohtani would fit in better with the Seattle Mariners because it would be easier for the Japanese phenom to be an outfielder or a designated hitter while not pitching due to the Mariners’ needs.
In my view, it would be more difficult for Ohtani on the Angels because while they desperately need his talents as a starting pitcher,
The positions where he played for the Nippon Ham Fighters while not hurling 100 mile an hour fastballs are set for the Halos as Justin Upton, Kole Calhoun, and (baseball’s best player) Mike Trout are set to be one of the best outfields in MLB this coming season,
While a future first ballot Hall of Famer, Albert Pujols, a guy who although his days of hitting well over .300 are long gone can still drive in runs – he drove in 101 runs last year and 119 runs the year before – is pretty much etched in stone as the DH.
The only option I see Ohtani doing while not on the mound is platooning with C.J. Cron at first base, as being a left-handed hitter he can play against righties while Cron can play when the Angels are facing left handers.
I’m glad that this 23-year-old from northern Japan has chosen a SoCal team to begin his odyssey in American baseball.
With all the injuries and lack of depth that they’ve suffered the past few years, that Angel starting rotation can sure use him.
If Ohtani can get anywhere from 15-20 wins this coming spring and summer, that would be huge for the Angels’ Wild Card chances as despite that MASH unit of a pitching staff and no dependable closer, they were the last team eliminated from playoff contention.
The press conference given at Angel Stadium on December 9th that officially introduced Shohei Ohtani as a member of the Los Angeles Angels. Courtesy of YouTube.
Before the Angels’ fans get too excited and start making plans for a World Series victory parade leading from downtown Anaheim to Angel Stadium, however…
The one thing that Angel Nation needs to remember is this:
As of the moment Ohtani was introduced at the press conference, everything he did in Nippon Professional Baseball means absolutely nothing.
In other words, he needs to prove himself at the highest level of baseball, complete with larger ballparks and a 162 game schedule as opposed to a 146 game schedule and Mondays off in Japan.
He needs to show that he can get hitters like Aaron Judge and his new Yankee teammate (who I so wanted to be a Dodger as he’s from L.A.) Giancarlo Stanton, as well as Jose Altuve and his friends on the world champion/division rival Houston Astros out on a regular basis.
As well as be able to hit against guys like Justin Verlander and his new blue-clad SoCal rival Clayton Kershaw.
Hideo Nomo proved himself when he joined the Dodgers in the 1990s.
So did Hideki Matsui when he came over from the Yomiuri Giants to the New York Yankees in 2003.
And especially Ichiro Suzuki when he blasted onto the MLB scene with the Mariners in 2001 and managed to break records and get 3,000 hits in America, ensuring his first ballot Hall of Fame status.
Now it’s Ohtani’s turn.
I’m confident he’ll turn out well for the Angels as if he performs anything like he did in Japan, at this time in 2018 he’ll be the American League’s Rookie of the Year.
And because he chose to play in Orange County, those Halos’ playoff chances got that much better.
But remember Angel fans, he’ll have his struggles as he adjusts to the grind of “The Show”, so you’ll need to be patient.
And please, for me…
Do something about those uniforms, especially those ugly red jerseys and caps!
And bring back the unis from the 1980s and early 90s!