For Shohei Ohtani (29, LA Angels), the 2023 World Baseball Classic (WBC) played a big role in becoming a ‘baseball icon’. The final match, in which fellow Angels teammate Mike Trout (32), the leading hitter of the U.S. national team, struck out two out in the ninth inning of the final, remains a famous scene that is still talked about. The record Ohtani left in the WBC was a batting average of 0.435 (10 hits in 23 at-bats) as a hitter, 1 home run, 8 RBIs, and 9 runs, and as a pitcher, 2 wins and 1 save, an ERA of 1.86. Of course, Ohtani was the MVP of the tournament.
Ohtani, who conquered the WBC, now begins the 2023 season, which will determine the ransom for the next 10 years. Ohtani will start on the 31st (Korean time) in the opening match against the Oakland Athletics of the 2023 Major League Baseball (MLB) held at Ring Central Coliseum in Oakland, California, USA. It is the opening match selection for the second year in a row following last year. It is expected that he will also be a center hitter as a hitter. In other words, it is possible to harvest a starter win and a home run from the opening game. 스포츠토토
MLB.com, the official homepage of the Major League Baseball, released experts’ forecasts of awards in major categories, such as the season’s MVP, a day before the opening of the season. Ohtani was chosen as a strong candidate for MVP as well as the Cy Young Award for the best pitcher in each league.
MLB.com predicted that Ohtani would win the American League MVP again in two years after 2021. Ohtani, who was unanimously selected as the MVP for the 2021 season, came second in the MVP vote last season, behind Aaron Judge (New York Yankees), who set a new record for the most home runs in a single season in the American League with 62 home runs. MLB.com said, “Ohtani has been playing as an elite hitter and ace pitcher for the past two seasons, and has produced amazing results, recording WAR (Victory Contribution Against Substitute Player) 9 or more every year. We may not have seen his prime yet.”
Ohtani was also selected as a leading candidate for the Cy Young Award given to the best pitcher in the major leagues. There is a big award called the Cy Young Award for a pitcher, and MVP is usually given to a batter. So, among pitchers, only 11 players have won the season MVP and the Cy Young Award at the same time. If Ohtani dominates the MVP and Cy Young Awards, he will be named as the 12th player, but he could become the first player to play both pitcher and hitter. That’s why Ohtani’s presence is unique.
Ohtani will qualify as a free agent (FA) after the 2023 season. It is analyzed that if Ohtani does not sign an extended contract with the Angels during the season and comes to the free agent market, he will be able to exceed the annual average of $50 million and a total annual salary of $600 million for the first time ever. Some say that Ohtani, who is an ace as a pitcher and can play the center batting line as a hitter, is cheap even with an annual average of 50 million dollars. Big market teams with abundant funds, such as the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, New York Yankees, and New York Mets, are moving up and down Ohtani’s destinations from now on. There is also an analysis that some teams quietly spent the last Stove League targeting Ohtani.
Will Ohtani be able to write a new era by continuing the big success of the two years of batting and batting? Ohtani’s ‘manga baseball’ may not even begin.