On paper, the Los Angeles Angels quickly emerged as a serious threat to the Houston Astros in the American League West with the commitment of two-way Japanese star Shohei Ohtani.
The decision by the 23-year-old to sign with the Angels was surprising to say the least because the club wasn’t seen as a frontrunner compared to the Texas Rangers, winner of two titles in the last three years, or the Seattle Mariners, for instance.
According to USA Today, the Astros were too dominant in the West last season to think that the Angels, or any other team for that matter, will immediately upend that trend with that addition of Ohtani. Also, it’s not clear how the Japanese star will respond after the ankle and thigh injuries that sidelined him for much of last season in the Nippon Professional Baseball.
Ohtani has been dubbed the Babe Ruth of Japan as he batted .322 along with 22 homeruns. However, he’s much better as pitcher with fastball speeds of over 100 mph and 1.86 ERA in 2016, a rating that is much better than what MLB players offer, 174 strikeouts in 140 innings, said the NYTimes.
His fastballs are also consistent as Ohtani recorded 31 pitches in one game that rushed past 99 mph.
Ohtani actually missed the chance to become the highest-paid foreigner to have descended upon the MLB had he waited for a couple more years. As things stand, signing with the Angels only earned him the minimum $2.32 million instead of the estimated $200 million. The Angels will also pay the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, Ohtani’s previous team, $20 million as posting fee as agreed in the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
In a statement, the Angels said that they are excited about adding Ohtani to the team. “We felt a unique connectivity with him throughout the process and are excited he will become an Angel,” the statement said.