The Shohei Ohtani race is over and the decision has been made. After years of waiting and anticipation, Ohtani is coming to the Major Leagues and he will be playing for the Anaheim Angels.
I recently published an article in which I ranked the seven finalists for Shohei Ohtani. I ranked the Angels second behind the Rangers, but as a die-hard Angels fan, I don’t mind being wrong on this one.
Ohtani battled injury in 2017, but it was nothing major and he finished his 2017 campaign with a .332 batting average with 16 doubles and 8 home runs in 65 games while making just 5 starts with a 3.20 ERA with a 3-2 win-loss record.
In 2016, Ohtani turned some heads hitting a full line of .322/.416/.588, with 18 doubles, 22 homers, 67 RBI, 65 runs, along with 7 stolen bases in 382 plate appearances. His pitching was just as impressive. In 2016, Ohtani had a win-loss record of 10-4, with a 1.86 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 174 strikeouts, 45 walks, with 4 complete games and 1 shutout in 140 innings.
Every MLB team received a questionnaire given to them by Ohtani and sent it back to him with hopes of receiving an interview. 23 teams did not receive an interview, including the New York Yankees who were seen as the heavy favorites before Major League Baseball ratified a new posting system with Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball which allowed Ohtani to go on the free agent market.
The seven teams that Ohtani interviewed were the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Fransico Giants, San Diego Padres, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, Chicago Cubs, and of course, the Anaheim Angels.
Ohtani clearly felt something with the Halos that he didn’t feel with any other team, and in a statement, Ohtani’s agent Nez Balelo stated, “Shohei is humbled and flattered by all the time and effort that so many teams put into their presentations and sincerely thanks them for their professionalism. In the end, he (Ohtani) felt a strong connection with the Angels and believes they can best help him reach his goals in Major League Baseball.”
Mike Trout was obviously very excited that Ohtani was signing with his team as well. He was unable to meet with Ohtani in person since he is getting married on Saturday, but he did FaceTime the Japanese phenom in an attempt to win him over. It worked and Trout tweeted this regarding Ohtani…
A lot of credit is due to Angels GM Billy Eppler as well…
While the Ohtani deal may not make the Angels the favorites to win the World Series in 2018, it gave their World Series odds a big boost. For example, they jumped from 50-1 to 30-1 odds to win the World Series at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook.
The Angels were in the thick of the Wild Card Race in 2017 and missed a shot at the Yankees in the one-game elimination match by 5 games. The acquisition of Ohtani may be what pushes them over the hump and gives them their first playoff berth since 2014. The Halos now have a potent outfield that now consists of Mike Trout, Justin Upton, Shohei Ohtani, and Kole Calhoun (unless the Angels decide to DH him and move Pujols over to first a couple games per week). Ohtani also bolsters the Angels lineup pitching-wise. The Angels may resort to a six-man rotation and if they can manage to keep their starting rotation healthy, they will be a difficult team to deal with.
Long story short, the Angels have been searching for a break for the past few years that would get them a shot back in playoff contention, and if Ohtani lives up to the hype, you are going to see some big things going on in Anaheim.
Since the Halos will get Ohtani for virtually nothing, they will still have a great deal of cash to use in the free agent market. You may see a new starter in an Angels uniform soon, perhaps a new third baseman or second baseman? What do you think the next move will be for the Angels? Moustakas? Darvish? Cozart? Only time will tell.