Baseball pitchers hit some big dingers this season. From Madison Bumgarner to Jake Arrieta, pitcher home runs were a hot trend in the MLB, to the point that there was even talk of a pitchers-only Home Run Derby.
Even for a pitcher with the slugging reputation of a Madison Bumgarner, a home run is still a pretty big deal. But Japan’s Shohei Otani sees these silly American pitchers and laughs.
If that name means nothing to you, then it is something you should definitely fix. Luckily, we can help you out.
The 22-year-old plays in the Japanese professional league and is a baseball wunderkind. He can quite literally do it all on a baseball diamond. He set the Japanese record for fastest pitch ever thrown at 102 mph, in 20 starts posted a gaudy 1.86 ERA and 0.96 WHIP, and oh, this guy mashes, too. He slashed an impressive .322/.416/.588 with 22 home runs, and on top of it all, he’s a winner. His team, the Nippon Ham Fighters captured the Japan Series Title this season.
We are calling your attention to Otani today because he showed off his prodigious hitting ability in a big way during a World Baseball Classic exhibition against the Netherlands on Sunday. He hit the ball so damn hard it bounced off the ceiling of the Tokyo Dome.
This wasn’t a dinger (the umpires ruled it a ground-rule double), but it was still more impressive than any pitcher home run hit this season. The manager’s look of utter disbelief at the 0:17 mark of the video really says it all.
So, is this guy gonna get a chance to prove his mettle against the best competition in the world? Well, Otani could be in the MLB as soon as next season. Nothing is certain yet, but there is a belief among MLB execs the Nippon Ham Fighters will post him for the maximum MLB fee of $20 million this offseason, and it appears he will command a sizable market if and when that happens. One anonymous GM is already on the record as saying he believes Otani would be “by far the best pitcher on the market.”
Otani would be a fascinating addition to an MLB roster, and if he can do more cool stuff like this, will also make one lucky fanbase very, very happy.