2018 Fantasy Baseball: Los Angeles Angels Sign Shohei Ohtani
The Los Angeles Angels shocked the baseball world when they won the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes. It was a unique negotiation as teams could not offer more than what they had in their international bonus pool. He will make the league minimum like any other rookie once he collects his signing bonus. However, that is not where the unique qualities of this addition start.
What this means for the Angels
Ohtani is the first significant two-way player since Babe Ruth. Sure, there have been other position players that could pitch and there have been other pitchers that could hit, but none have put together the combination that he has. The Angels have already announced their plans to use a six man rotation so he pitches on the same amount of rest as he did in Japan.
Their outfield dance card is full, so they will likely use him as a designated hitter at least a few times a week. His bonafides as a hitter are a bit murky. He has a .286/.358/.500 slash line in Japan. No Japanese hitter has come in hitting the same as he did in Japan. Perhaps the best comp could end up being Hideki Matsui. Matsui hit .304/.413/.582 in Japan. So, you kind of get the idea here. Matsui ended up hitting .282/.360/.462 in the big leagues. So, if we use a similar conversion chart then Ohtani might end up hitting .260/.340/.440 at the big league level. That would still be better than both C.J. Cron and Albert Pujols.
Pitching wise he is also better than what the Angels have. Japanese pitchers have a similar conversion chart that could be applied to them. Maybe he ends up being a cross between Masahiro Tanaka and Yu Darvish. The Angels would certainly take that all by itself, but when you combine that with two or three wins as a position player then you could be looking at five or six wins total.
What does this mean for you
This is where it gets really interesting. Most fantasy formats are not set up to handle this kind of player. After all, you don’t get credit for NL pitchers’ hitting numbers. Maybe that would be an interesting twist as Madison Bumgarner always seems to be good for a dinger or two as a hitter. In the old world you would have to choose how to use him. In that case, the pitching seems to be a better bet than the hitting at this point.
However, maybe they find a way to change the rules and allow you to use him in both capacities. In that case he could be a pretty valuable fantasy commodity. Otherwise he would be a second or third fantasy starting pitcher on most fantasy teams. So, while he is a huge amount of hype in real baseball, you will have to wait around to see what the commissioner of your league says.