Shohei is a role model for all children, but Japanese youth are especially proud of these accomplishments so far!
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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!
@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
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…
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 HowStuffWorks.com https://health.howstuffworks.com/medicine/modern-technology/surgery-change-baseball1.htm)
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.
Executive Director, Shohei Ohtani Fan Club Canada
As a younger baseball player, Ohtani was asked how he felt about seeing Japanese baseball players leave Japan for MLB careers. He answered that he never felt players were abandoning their traditions or homeland. Rather, he believed the MLB opportunities would only serve to showcase the superhero talents of Japanese players to the world. Shohei never felt the greatness of a player would be diminished by crossing the Pacific. He didn’t know then that his comments would very soon ring true for him.
Since signing with the Angels, Ohtani’s popularity continues to soar across Japan. A recent Kyodo news survey confirmed Ohtani is still Japan’s most popular athlete. I had the opportunity to attend several Ohtani games during spring training in Tempe Arizona. Although at first it looked like a dismal start for Ohtani, it was apparent he continued to be a superstar among his fan base in a new land. Hundreds of Japanese journalists and an assortment of giggling Japanese school girls filled whole sections of Diablo stadium, excited to capture footage of every play. MLB Ohtani jerseys quickly sold out as fans scrambled to make purchases.
Back home in Japan, workers in office towers continue to be given “break times” to watch Ohtani at bat in broadcasted MLB games. TV shows featuring fan club members dominate the sports airways as every aspect of Shohei’s life is dissected. Discussions about everything, from diet to the qualities he would look for in his future wife, fill hours of conversation.
Prior to games in many Japanese stadiums, Shohei’s MLB feats are highlighted on large
stadium screens to applauding fans. Package deals to attend MLB games in North America have become a hot ticket item. Outside the USA, Canada’s largest Shohei Ohtani fan club has become a reality.
My sense is that this continued support is because Shohei has never abandoned who he is. He isn’t becoming just an American MLB player; he remains true to his culture and, in Japanese tradition, is humble to his approach of the samurai tradition of “nitoryu” (two weapons as one): batting and pitching. This is truly a one way cultural exchange for MLB.
By: Dave Pollard
The Toronto Bluejays took an early lead in a 5 run 1st inning from the costly error by Chris Young off Russell Martin’s RF fly. The Angels then held the Jays scoreless for the rest of the game, giving a chance for a comeback.
When Shohei stepped up to the plate, the fans in Toronto welcomed him to Canada with a round of applause. At this point the Angels have yet to get a man on base, the atmosphere in the stadium was tense as everyone knew what Shohei is capable of. As he got into his batting stance, all eyes were on Shohei.
Happ delivered a 90 MPH fastball inside for a swinging strike. “I have to admit his swing is really nice” said an unnamed Bluejays fan near me. After working a full count off Happ, Shohei drew a walk of a 94 MPH fastball, first man on.
There was no shortage of Shohei Ohtani fans around the stadium in Angels gear and Bluejays gear. Every time Shohei stepped up to the plate, everyone had their cell phone cameras out to capture the magic of the moment.
Catch Shohei tomorrow at 7:07 pm EST against Arron Sanchez (2-4, 4.47 ERA)