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Shohei – Going, Going, Gone!

With the start of the 2023 baseball season, and more Ohtani sightings, the media is again in a frenzy for what the future holds for Shohei. Trout announced recently on ESPN that, “I’m going to do whatever I can to keep him here.” Trout has a contract with the Angels until 2030, and his hope is that Shohei, like him, will just stay put and get comfortable with what could be the largest monetary contract in MLB history. 

Both Minasian and owner, Moreno, have stated publicly that they are committed to extension discussions. Here’s the reality: Shohei is NOT looking for “comfortable.” He wants to win, and the Angels have not made the playoffs for the 8th season. It’s not the money that motivates Shohei; he could have stayed in Japan longer and would have earned considerably more. As an incoming international player under the age of 25, he could only receive the league minimum salary, but his desire to play in the MLB was his priority. Let’s look at what team would best benefit from acquiring this two-way superstar, and what considerarions we think would shape any decisions Shohei makes as a free agent. 

Minasian promised to build more depth in the Angels lineup by recruiting more major league talent. He made some good choices, but in our opinion, not good enough to take the Angels to the playoffs in 2023. Their bullpen is still lacking, and their starters after Ohtani are questionable and unproven. We predict Shohei will NOT stay with the Angels, but will stay on the west coast. 

The large Japanese community in California has welcomed Shohei with open arms. He’s a household name in Japan, and his Japanese-American fans are passionate about their support. Ohtani has noticed. No media outlet has commented on the “Ippei Factor.” Ippei has known Shohei for 5 years with the Fighters before returning to California with him to join the Angels as his interpreter. He’s always at Ohtani’s side, even when Shohei is not actively playing baseball. California is Ippei’s home and he has family there. The sun, sand, proximity to Japan, and Ippei’s influence bolsters our prediction that Shohei will not leave California, and probably sign with the Padres or the Dodgers. 

What does Shohei see when he looks at the Dodgers? He sees a team that is a fit with an opportunity for him to attain his career goals. Observers have noted that the Dodgers have deliberately not been spending prior to this season. There is little doubt that Shohei is the asset that they’ve been saving up for in 2024. Here’s the attraction. The Dodgers won 111 games while sustaining the most runs per game by a team in 2022. They lost Anderson and Heaney in free agency and replaced them with injury-prone starters like Syndergaard. Ohtani is the fit they need because he adds another “left-handed at bat” with Freeman, and he solidifies one of the upper-tier pitching rotations. We predict the Dodgers will lock Shohei in before free agency even starts. 

Shohei is no “normal player,” and there will be no normal negotiations. Wherever Shohei decides to find a new home, OhtaniCanada will be under the roof of that new home with him. 

*Opinions expressed are those of OhtaniCanada and Edwin Lee (long time follower)

Shohei Achievements

At 28 years old, Shohei Ohtani passes Ichiro Suzuki for the second-most home runs by a Japanese-born player in the MLB with 118 home runs.
Shohei Ohtani reached another milestone, achieving 500+ strikeouts as a pitcher, and 100+ home runs as a hotter.
Shohei Ohtani named 2023 World Baseball Classic MVP after posting a .434 batting average, with 1 homer, 4 doubles, and 10 RBIs. Ohtani also went 2-0 with 1 save, 1.86 ERA, and 11 strikeouts as a pitcher in the WBC.
Shohei Ohtani and team Japan wins the 2023 World Baseball Classic, defeating team USA 3-2 in the finals.
Shohei Ohtani named best player in his pool for the first round of the World Baseball Classic 2023.
MLB Network ranks Shohei Ohtani as the #1 player right now in 2023
Shohei Ohtani wears #16 for Team Japan in the upcoming 2023 World Baseball Classic
Shohei Ohtani awarded the 2022 Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award. This is the second straight year Ohtani has won the award.
Shohei Ohtani 2022 MLB Season Stats and Achievements
Shohei Ohtani Milestones Reached as of August 9, 2022
On August 9, 2022, Shohei Ohtani became the first AL pitcher to homer and pitch 6 scoreless innings in a game since 1972
2022 ESPYS – Best Athlete (Men’s Sports) and Best MLB Player
2022 First Team All-Star Starting Pitcher and Second Team All-Star Designated Hitter
Shohei Ohtani receiving his AL MVP award at Angels Stadium of Anaheim (via @Angels)
Shohei Ohtani reaches 100 homeruns and counting.
Homerun comparison between a few Japanese MLB legends. In pretty good company.

Shohei is a role model for all children, but Japanese youth are especially proud of these accomplishments so far!

Shohei Ohtani 2023 Batting & Pitching Projections via FanGraphs

Has Shohei Reached Superhero Status in 2022?

Ohtanicanada says, “Yes.” But there is much more to his hero status among fans. Let’s look first at his baseball superhero feats. In 2021, Shohei hit 46 home runs, drove in 100 runs, and scored 103 runs. He also had a league-leading 8 triples! Shohei is no stranger to the superhero genre. His hero growing up in Japan was Goro Shigeno, a fictional character in a baseball themed sports magazine with superhero abilities. Little did Shohei suspect that one day he would become the embodiment of such a hero.

To start with, superheroes generally have some physical prowess. Since coming to the MLB, Shohei has bulked up 35 pounds of mostly muscle to add to his 6 foot 4 frame. If Shohei is batting, his super speed is his power, as he has to react quickly to hit and get to those bases. His steals require stealth and speed. As a pitcher, his super strength will guarantee him that super speed to throw those pitches using that great upper body strength. On the final day of the regular 2021 season, Ohtani recorded his 46th and final home run. Of the 46, 25 were 110+ mph exit velocity, which leads the big leagues. Combined with the 46 home runs, Ohtani also recorded an MLB-leading eight triples.

With great power, comes great responsibility. Shohei is acutelly aware that he, like all heroes, is a role model for youth around the world. Every move he makes is recorded and there is even an “Ohtani-cam” that does nothing but follow him around the stadium for Japanese audiences. It’s comparable to having the people of the lost planet on Krypton watch every move of their Kryptonian son, Kal-El (Superman), on Earth.

The worth of a superhero is also measured by his or her character. Once a hero betrays that trust, the fall is immediate and steep. It was obvious to us all that in 2018 that Shohei truly was that mild-mannered Clark Kent with no sign of arrogance in spite of the “out of this world” feats he was showing us. Shohei, like all superheroes, shows us what it’s like to be selfless, have courage, and be dedicated to a mission you love.

So “Yes,” Shohei has shown us that there are real superheroes among us. Shohei continues to perform unthinkable feats and demonstrate every day that he is truly entitled to the name, SUPERHERO!

Shohei Ohtani 2022 (And How His Words Startled Fans in 2021)

@ohtanicanada (Instagram) オタニカナダ

On September 28, 2021 Shohei talked about his affection for his fans and teammates. Then Shohei said this, “…but more than that, I want to win! That’s the biggest thing for me. I’ll leave it at that.”

When someone says, “I’ll leave at that” it means there is more. That remark clearly indicates that they have said enough, and maybe too much. That blurt is also indicative of Shohei’s and Angel fans’ frustration with having seen seven seasons slip away without making post-season playoffs. So what do we know about Ohtani’s character? He is selfless, motivated, and throughout his life, he has had to make those tough decisions to further his baseball career. Shohei is a risk taker, and like he says, “I want to win.” But, his fans are asking if he wants to win badly enough that he’d consider leaving the Angels if they don’t pull themselves out of this drought.

This aforementioned comment threw Angel management, players, and fans into a tailspin. Fan pages were abuzz with debates about whether Shohei could, should, would leave the Angels. Some supporters argued that Shohei has such a genuine connection with the franchise, his teammates, and fans that he would never consider such a move. In any case, damage control on the part of Angel management and Shohei was swift and deliberate. You can be sure there were some closed-door discussions about how a frivolous comment like that might diminish a franchise’s fan base and earnings. Shohei, not surprisingly, quickly declared that he was open to a contract extension offer. Phew!

So, what’s up for Shohei in 2022 and beyond?

  • Shohei is eligible for a new salary negotiation after the 2022 season and free agency after 2023. @ohtanicanada predicts he won’t leave his teammate and close friend, Trout.
  • Shohei will continue to be a two-way sensation. We also predict he will continue to rack up spectacular numbers on both sides of the ball if injury doesn’t sideline him.
  • Salary will not be a primary consideration for Shohei during future negotiations. If money was his only motivation, we would never have seen him on the North American continent with those restrictive earning rules for international players under the age of 25.
  • @ohtanicanada predicts that new additions to the team in starting pitching will make a difference this season for the Angels. Trout and Rendon, fully recovered from injuries, will join the roster.
  • Our guy will continue to be a “once-in-a-century pitcher” with a lethal left-handed swing.

Shohei’s goal has always been to make baseball the most popular sport in North America. His charm and universal appeal will continue to be revolutionary not just for the team but for baseball itself, especially for the younger players who will lead the way in promoting this sport.

David Pollard and Randy Chu
Founding Members of @ohtanicanada

Shohei Ohtani’s case for al mvp

It is August 21st, there’s more than a month left of the season, and the Angels are going to miss the playoffs (again). Yet despite all of that, Shohei Ohtani has all but locked down the AL MVP award. Let’s look at his compelling case!

Ohtani currently leads the league in home runs (40), slugging (.644), and total bases (268). Pretty good for someone that just 3 years ago, scouts believed to be the equivalent of a high school hitter. Oh, and he also leads the league in being intentionally walked. At the start of the year, would anyone have imagined a pitcher leading in that category? His spring speed is also in the 92nd percentile, allowing him to turn singles into doubles and rack up infield singles.

His baseball savant page has more red than the wedding in Game of Thrones, showing multiple categories in the 99th and 100th percentile (see below). In a year where Trout and Rendon has missed substantial time, Shohei Ohtani has pretty much carried the entire Angels offense.

All this being said, if we were only comparing hitters, it’d be a much closer race. However, he can also do this…

yes… that’s 101mph on the corner.

While Shohei Ohtani probably isn’t going to win the Cy Young award, he’s right there in the middle of the conversation along with names such as Gerrit Cole and Lance Lynn. He’s 8-1 and the Angels are 12-6 in games he’s started. If his 100 innings qualifies, his 2.79 ERA would place him in second place. He’s also striking out just under 11 per 9 innings. And he’s trending in the right direction, dialing it up as of late. Here is where he stands among pitchers since July 1st.

1st in W-L record (5-0)
1st in ERA (1.58)
1st in WHIP (0.75)
1st in K/BB (9.3)
1st in Opp. OPS (.505)

Shohei’s got an exceptional arsenal. The expected batting average against him is just behind Gerrit Cole. Below is his pièce de résistance – the splitter, and how it looks when it’s overlaid with his fastball.

Ohtani’s biggest competition for the AL MVP is Toronto Blue Jay Vlad Jr – who is also having an incredible season. To date, Shohei’s racked up 8.1 WAR, which puts Vlad’s 5.0 in the dust. While it can easily be argued that Vlad Jr. is the better hitter, Shohei Ohtani’s WAR has the additional boost of his pitching. We’ve all heard the comparisons to Babe Ruth, but in the 21st century where we have access to the numbers, it’s becoming clear: Shohei is better. Vegas betting has Shohei Ohtani as the clear AL MVP winner and we’ve looked at some of the reasons why. So if you’re looking for a closer MVP race, you might want to check out the NL, because the AL MVP race is already over.

Keep doing you, Shohei


If you’re one of Shohei Ohtani’s many fans on a pilgrimage to Tempe Arizona for spring training 2020, you should read this.

The Angels play 30 Cactus League teams in 2020, 15 at home and 15 on the road. Most ballparks are only a short drive from one another. There is an online Cactus League mileage chart to assist you in deciding what stadiums are near your hotel. This season runs from Feb.22 to March 20.

The Tempe stadium was built in the 60’s and was badly in need of repairs for many years. A 12 million dollar facelift guaranteed that our Angels will be there until at least 2025. When we arrived at the Tempe stadium for our first visit, there was no doubt we were at the right stadium. A giant “A” grabs your attention the moment you ascend the stairs to the ballpark. Why stairs? It’s because the Tempe stadium is built on top of a flat hill in the desert. An American flag dominates the Tempe landscape overlooking the stadium.

Tempe is a university town and home to nearby Arizona State University. Although Shohei is not a drinker, his teammates can regularly be found sipping a few in the Mill Avenue District. Should you meet players in local pubs and restaurants, it’s not recommended you bother them for an autograph. Players appreciate a “Have a great season” remark, but please pronounce their names correctly (i.e. Pujols). Trust us on this one!

If you’re looking for an autograph, the Tempe stadium is small enough (seats 9,558) that your chances are good you will scoop a few signatures. Keep in mind that 500 of these seats are filled by Japanese reporters and screaming Japanese fans for every game Shohei plays. My advice is to go to the stadium an hour and half early and hang out in Section 3 if you want visitor autographs. Ohtani is most accessible at the tunnel leading to the Angel clubhouse after the game. You won’t get pics of Ohtani pitching in the bullpen at Tempe because that area is walled off. However, the visitors bullpen is easily accessible. Kikuchi (Mariners) loves the attention and is generous with his time and autographs. Our pics of Ohtani in the bullpen were taken at the Maryvale Park.

Best yet! A little known fact is that the Angels do batting practice in one of their fields next to Tempe stadium on game days. Be at the batting field exit gate at about 11am. All the Angels, including Shohei, must walk directly past you and regularly stop for fans.

My last piece of advice: The players are pretty astute at distinguishing between genuine fans and those hoping to acquire a signature for financial gain. Good Luck and see you there!


Dave Pollard & Randy Chu

Shohei Ohtani Fan Club Canada

Fun Facts About Shohei

1) At Tempe during spring training it was obvious that Shohei was feeling the strain of his MLB debut. Observers, including myself, noticed that whenever there was a lull in the game, Shohei repeatedly tied and untied his shoelaces even though it wasn’t necessary. This “stress reduction” habit is still of feature of his game.

2) Ohtani has NO driver’s licence, but he does have a personal chef. Apparently, American food and the Big Mac diet has not won him over. His fans in Tempe regularly show up at the few Japanese restaurants in Tempe in hopes of meeting him.

3) One of his favourite teachers in high school asked his class to outline their future goals. Shohei predicted he would win the world series at 26, then promptly find a wife. He would have two sons and a daughter, then move back to Japan at age 41.

4) Talk about dedication to sport! Shohei’s love of baseball leaves no room for the dating scene. His teammates say he doesn’t socialize after a game and alcohol is out of the question.

5) Most fans don’t know that Shohei had huge input into picking his translator with the Angels. Ippei Mizahara was no stranger. Ippei had known Shohei in Japan as a translator for American players who were drafted to Shohei’s Japanese team the  Fighters. Ippei has cult status now and has his own rookie cards.

6) When Shohei was in high school, his favourite subject was History. He was intrigued by the history of Shoguns in Japan and the nobility of the Samurai. He researched every document he could find on the subject. His classmates and teachers were in awe of his knowledge.

“YES, TO ROOKIE OF THE YEAR” Canada’s Largest Ohtani Fan Club Makes a Case

Babe Ruth signed ball at a baseball memorabilia store in Las Vegas

Somewhere between a trip to the Grand Canyon, and the Marvel superhero exhibit in Vegas, an acquaintance and myself visited a baseball memorabilia store during the summer of 2017. Our eyes were immediately drawn to an autographed Babe Ruth ball valued at $59 999.00. I recall offering the manager of the store an opportunity to acquire one of my autographed Shohei Ohtani baseballs, “Never heard of him,” he responded. My, how times have changed!

As rookie awards loom, we can’t help but reflect on the fact that after a century, Ohtani has matched Ruth’s record for 50 innings pitched and 10 home runs in the same season. In fact, Shoehei went on to better that record.

Signed Shohei Ohtani baseball

As a fan club, our faith in Ohtani has never waivered. After all, he has already shown himself to be the best pitcher/hitter in Japan while playing in the Fighter league.

I spent a week in Tempe for Shohei’s initial spring training. Even in the “B” games he sometimes struggled on the mound. We also knew he had a ligament tear when he signed with the Angels. We expected the worst after further injury sidelined him into missing half the season as pitcher. But, it’s the big picture that counts!

Shohei kept playing as DH even after the diagnosis was made that he needed Tommy John surgery. He continued to impress, hitting balls over 430 feet on several occasions. We shouldn’t forget that he was pitching 100 mph balls prior to his injury. His full season stats are awesome! In addition, he leads all rookies in slugging percentage.

Shohei Ohtnai Stats in just his first 24 games in the MLB

Most importantly, this guy has been under a huge microscope ever since he entered MLB, not only here, but in Japan where his every sneeze was reported on.

Ohtani is like one of those Marvel multi-powered heroes I mentioned previously. He possesses two super powers, hitting and pitching. Even with one power temporarily removed, he is still a superhero, most deserving of the ROOKIE OF THE YEAR AWARD.Jackie Robinson Award


So what is “Tommy John” surgery?

It’s not new, and 25 percent of major league pitchers have had the procedure. Tommy John isn’t named after the renowned surgeon, rather the first player to have the surgery in 1974. Doctor Frank Jobe lived a long 88 years and astounded fans and players alike with his expertise in the operating theatre where he pioneered the UCL procedure.

(Image retrieved from

So what’s in store for Shohei this week. He can expect to have a tendon taken from his arm or leg and grafted in place to stabilize his elbow injury. A small four inch incision will be required to position the grafted tendon. In some cases, the tendon is taken from a cadaver (Hopefully a baseball fan).

Shohei can expect to be under anesthesia for approximately an hour to an hour and a half, depending on the severity of the injury. It is important to note that repeated stem cell injections didn’t really improve his condition. In many cases, the operation can be done on an out-patient basis, but still requires intensive homecare on the part of the recipient. Sadly, many players must endure a second procedure within five years.


It’s interesting to note that some pitchers believe that after the recovery period, they can pitch harder and faster. This is still debatable. But what isn’t debatable is that many parents across the country request the procedure for their children even if they are not injured in hopes of improving their game.

Japanese fans expected that Shohei would return home for the surgery to be among family and friends. That isn’t happening. Doctor ElAttrache, a surgeon in Los Angeles will be Shohei’s physician.

So when can we expect to see Shohei in action again? Manager Scioscia predicts it could be 2020 before he can pitch again. Hopes are that in late 2019 he can return as a DH. Many of us were shocked to find Shohei still acting as DH after his diagnosis. Our concern was unfounded. A short time after announcing the need for surgery, Shohei facing Texas, hit his 17th home-run.

It’s been suggested that our fan club will have easier access to Shohei during his recovery. It’s important to keep his brand active. Let’s send our prayers his way for a speedy recovery.

Dave Pollard

Executive Director, Shohei Ohtani Fan Club Canada

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