During his illustrious 22-year career, the great Babe Ruth led the league in home runs on 12 separate occasions, including 11 out of 13 seasons during his prime. Overall, the “Great Bambino” hit a whopping 714 Major League round-trippers and had 2,214 RBIs, all while posting a career batting average of .342.
Of course, “chicks dig the long-ball,” but what many overlook about Ruth is that he was also a dominant pitcher for a portion of his career. In fact, during his first six years in the league with the Boston Red Sox, he was 89-46 with a 2.19 ERA. During his most impressive season as a pitcher, in 1916, Ruth was 23-12 with a microscopic 1.75 ERA.
So, what if I were to tell you the next Babe Ruth is waiting in the wings and could become available to be signed by a Major League Baseball team as early as this offseason? What if I told you that player was still only 23-years-old? Would you be interested? Yes? Well, so would I.
The Next Babe Ruth
His name is Shohei Ohtani (some say it’s Otani) and he currently plays for the Nippon-Ham Fighters in Japan.
Ohtani, who is 6-foot-4, 215 pounds, has been called the “most fascinating man in baseball” because of his unique skillset. You see, the Japanese superstar can not only hit for power and average, but he also has shown the potential to become a dominant starting pitcher, as he has proven against much older competition in Japan.
Having a player like Ohtani, who can take the ball on every fifth day and play in the outfield on the others, would be a huge advantage for an MLB team.
*Note the age differential when looking at Ohtani’s stats since he joined the Japan Pacific League when he was 18. Ex. In 2013, he was 10.4 years younger than the average player in the league. Stats via Baseball Reference.
Yankees GM Brian Cashman realizes exactly what Ohtani could bring to an organization.
“Generally, if you have someone capable of doing something like that, it gives you more roster flexibility and roster choices,” Cashman said. “It’s kind of like having a 26th man when everyone else is playing with 25, just because of the duality of that particular player.”
Unfortunately, Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila seems content passing on what could end up being the next great.
It would be tough to see the Tigers pursuing pitcher/hitter/best player ever Shohei Otani in free agency, GM Al Avila said.
— anthony fenech (@anthonyfenech) November 13, 2017
A team that is clearly in a re-build mode is not interested in pursuing a 23-year-old, multi-talented player, who will be entering the prime of his career right about when the Tigers are ready to contend again?
Now, it’s no mystery that the Tigers are focused on cutting payroll, as they proved by the trades they made prior to the deadline, but not even considering a player with the hype Ohtani has is absurd.
Is Ohtani REALLY the “next Babe Ruth?” Probably not, but one MLB team will be the lucky winners of the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes and let’s just hope that team plays in the National League so the Tigers do not have to feel the wrath of the next “Sultan of Swat!”
Or, better yet, maybe Al Avila will surprise all of us fans with a nice Christmas present!
But for now, let’s just enjoy the highlights.