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Fantasy Fallout: Shohei Ohtani Signs with LA Angels

Here’s what it means for the fantasy landscape

Netherlands v Japan - International Friendly Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images

MIKE TROUT IS GOING TO THE PLAYOFFS!!!!!!

Shohei Ohtani officially signed with the Los Angeles Angels in what could be a franchise-altering move. The Angels have been on the outside looking in for far too long considering they employed the best player in baseball for the previous 6 seasons, and if the Ohtani hype is real this moves them into real championship contention.

But is the hype justified? What can we reasonably expect from Shohei Ohtani in his first big league season (and beyond for us dynasty owners)?

Let’s start with what we know - Ohtani is a 23 year old, left-handed hitting, right-handed pitching dual threat with a .286/.358/.500 triple slash line, and 10.3 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 2.52 ERA, and 1.08 WHIP across 5 seasons in Japan Pacific League. Those are Top 50 fantasy numbers on both sides of the baseball. Ohtani doesn’t have a ton of mileage on his arm with only 543 innings across 5 seasons, so my only concern from a workload perspective is how he’ll hold up in a 200+ IP season. His 6’3” 190 lb frame indicates he’ll be able to handle the physical aspect with little cause for concern.

To properly value Ohtani, we have to understand how we’ll be able to deploy him through our various fantasy providers. Our own Garrett Atkins provided an excellent recap of the different options, and if I was a gambling man I would guess Ohtani carries a P/UTIL tag and owners will be forced to pick a position for him on a daily/weekly basis. This means weekly- owners will have to choose to deploy him as a hitter and ignore his pitching stats for the week or vice versa. This severely inhibits his value compared to daily formats where you only lose his offensive stats for the days he pitches. Daily league owners should value Ohtani much more highly than in weekly formats.

Looking back to 2014 and 2012, both Yu Darvish and Jose Abreu were valued with similar ADPs (106 and 117, respectively) in their first season state-side. I anticipate Ohtani to go a little higher than that and wouldn’t be surprised to see him go off the board as early as the 5th round in standard formats. If we get confirmation before draft-season that daily-lineup leagues will get the best of both worlds for Ohtani, he becomes an instant Top 25 pick. I don’t expect his numbers on either side of the ball to justify that ranking alone, but if you combine a Top 75 hitter with a Top 75 pitcher in one roster spot, that’s absolutely worth a 2nd round pick for me.

It is great news for his fantasy value that he went with an AL team and can secure a DH role if the Angels choose. Ohtani instantly becomes the most interesting player in fantasy baseball history. Someone who will defy the rules of the game and force fantasy providers to make exceptions to basic roster construction. Everything I’ve seen indicates he’s a force on both sides of the ball and has the intangibles to find success. He’s going to be fun to watch with Mike Trout, and to see how the Halos elect to utilize his unique skillset. If the hype is real, and Shohei Ohtani is an all-star performer both on the mound and at the plate, it won’t be long before we get a taste of him and Mike Trout competing at the highest stage.