Angels manager Mike Scioscia has suggested in recent comments that Ohtani's biggest contribution is likely to be as a pitcher, but that the club is committed to giving him chances at the plate as well.
One of the most exciting prospects in some time has arrived in Major League Baseball.
ESPN has finally decided how to treat Shohei Ohtani as a fantasy player. They were very aware of what was at stake given how fantasy baseball owners were buzzing about Ohtani on social media and message boards. Different projection systems agree that Ohtani will be worth about three WAR, making him one of the 20 or so most valuable pitchers in the majors.
Awful Announcing spoke with Pierre Becquey, ESPN's deputy editor for fantasy and esports, as to how the site came to its decision and how Ohtani will impact the sport in numerous ways. He's the first such player of his type - one we genuinely want to use as both hitter and pitcher - in the Rotisserie era. That's what the Angels have in Ohtani and that's why you can understand them wanting to get creative with him.
"In Ohtani's case, because on a day he's not pitching and you know he's hitting", Becquey said, "if you have an ability to put him in your lineup...then you can do that and it doesn't cost you". He also will not count against any usage caps - innings pitched, starts or games played, for example - for time he accrues in the role in which he's not used in a given scoring period.
"Rule No. 1 of fantasy is: Don't break the game", Becquey said.
Ohtani's either/or decision also keeps the matter of precedent in mind, as his treatment could also apply to future such examples of two-way players.
He noted that one hypothetical that guided their thought process was the possibility of San Francisco Giants ace Madison Bumgarner - who has hit 17 career home runs and once hit for himself in lieu of a designated hitter - getting more opportunities to swing the bat regularly. If he accumulates at least 10 games in the field at a position, he'll gain eligibility at that position.
So if you play Yahoo, you'll need to draft Ohtani twice and play both to receive points for the whole package. What he emphasized, though, is that this template could be followed for other players. His batting average would be the only potential negative category, if he hits so poorly that he's a detriment to your team. The only downside for having Ohtani's primary position be a starting pitcher is that for leagues that use only batters, Ohtani will not be available in the player pool.
In anticipation of its fantasy baseball product opening next week, ESPN on Wednesday morning unveiled its strategy for two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani.