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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Shohei Ohtani is “Made in Japan” with American adaptations.

TOKYO ( Associated Press) — Shohei Ohtani is doing what no other player has done, something that makes Japanese players like Fumihiro Fujisawa proud.

Fujisawa is president of the Association for American Baseball Research, which is similar to the SABR, Society for American Baseball Research in Japan. So you know the number. But he has trouble recognizing Ohtani, whose physical build resembles a football tight end.

“His body has grown bigger and stronger in the last five years. We see him become an American, not a Japanese,” Fujisawa said.

There have been physical changes, maturation and cultural adaptations. But make no mistake, Ohtani is 100% “Made in Japan”, with its roots in rural Japan.

American Robert Whiting, who has written the best-selling books on baseball in Japan, considers Ohtani to be the result of 150 years of development in the sport. An American professor in Tokyo introduced the game, known in Japanese as “yaku” or “field ball”, in 1872.

Ohtani came after other successful players such as pitcher Hideo Nomo, who joined the Dodgers in 1995, and Ichiro Suzuki, who has over 3,000 hits and will likely enter Cooperstown in 2025 if eligible.

But there was always a but. While Nomo excelled, some people downplayed him for being just a thrower. The Japanese could shoot – they were technically proficient – but they could not succeed as position players. Then Ichiro arrived. He could kill, but not with power.

Now it’s Ohtani’s turn. He throws, he has the power to hit and he is one player, not two. No asterisk or footnote required.

“The Ohtani Americans can beat their teams or the Latin Americans,” Whiting told the Associated Press. “It’s bigger than most of them. He’s the strongest, plus he’s pitching every five days and batting first every day. You could argue that Ohtani is the greatest baseball player in the history of the game, Which he did last year and has done this year. You can make a case that he deserves to be the MVP every year as one of the top 10 hitters and pitchers.”

There is no debate on the part of the Astros and the manager of the American League All-Star team, Dusty Baker. He will place Ohtani as the designated hitter in Tuesday night’s matchup.

“He’s not just a star player, he’s a superstar,” Baker said.

Whiting is the author of the bestselling book “You’ve Gotta Have That,” which takes a look at Japanese culture through the prism of sports. Another book, “The Samurai Way of Baseball,” follows the career of Ichiro, who was Japan’s most famous player until his retirement in 2019. It was also titled “The Meaning of Ichiro”.

Ohtani grew up in Japan’s rigid baseball system at Hanamaki Higashi High School in rural Iwate Prefecture in the country’s northeast. Blue Jays pitcher UC Kikuchi attended the same high school a while back.

As a teenager, Ohtani drew up an 81-box growth chart detailing his goals. The step-by-step process is well known in Japan, as is Ohtani’s own board. It lists areas for improvement in baseball, but also the mental and personal aspects.

This specifies, among other things, that he has to read books, clean rooms, improve sliders, get his fastball over 100 mph, and improve his need to be reliable.

“Ohtani was raised in a Japanese martial arts-inspired system where you join a baseball team and play all year round. It’s not as seasonal as in the United States,” said Whiting, who has lived in Japan for 60 years.

World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Deskhttps://worldnationnews.com/
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