When the 2017 World Baseball Classic kicks off in just over a month, the world will not see one of the most dynamic superstars in the game today pitch. Shohei Otani has announced he will not pitch for Samurai Japan during the WBC. However, there is an outside chance he might hit.
Otani is a 22-year old superstar in the Nippon Professional Baseball league in Japan. He pitches and hits for the Nippon Ham Fighters, and last year he showed what he can do on both sides of the ball.
As a pitcher, Otani has gone 39-13 over the past four seasons with the Ham Fighters on the hill. He has tossed 12 complete games, including 6 shutouts. He has posted a career 2.66 ERA while striking out 10.3 per 9. In 2016, Otani went 10-4 with a 1.86 ERA while striking out 174 over 140 innings.
But it does not stop there. He also hit in 104 games last season posting an OPS of 1.004. He hit 22 home runs and batted .322 with a .416 OBP. He is simply a beast at the plate and on the hill. And he is just 22.
It remains to be seen if he will hit during the WBC, but due to a recurring soreness in his right ankle.
Japan opens the WBC with Cuba on Tuesday March 7th. The Samurai are hosing Round 1 in Tokyo where they will face off with Cuba, China, and Australia. They are looking to reclaim the title they lost in 2013 after winning the first two installments of the WBC.
Eric Bynum is Managing Editor here at BaseballdeWorld. He spent three years as an ESL teacher in South Korea, and is now working on his master's degree in history with a focus on baseball and WWII. He has played and/or written about baseball for the past 30 years and is an avid Atlanta Braves fan.