Nolan Ryan talks about Shohei Otani’s potential to “win a double title | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Nolan Ryan talks about Shohei Otani’s potential to “win a double title

Legendary pitcher Nolan Ryan also praises the continued evolution of the "two-faced" pitcher who has finally been assigned to pitch the season opener in the Majors.

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Otani responds to fan service. He has been working out this season with an adjustment menu that focuses on core training, and has maintained his weight at 102 kg, which he says is his best weight (Photo: AP/Afro)

As long as he doesn’t get injured, I think the home run king and most wins are both possible. I think Shohei will have another successful season.

Nolan Ryan, 75, who holds the record for the most strikeouts in the majors, praised the junior pitcher of the “Angels” with open arms.

The Major League Baseball season begins on April 7 (April 8 in Japan). Shohei Ohtani (27), who completed a dual role last season, will begin his fifth season in the Majors as the “No. 1 starting pitcher. Ryan is confident that Shohei will surpass last year’s performance.

What I am looking forward to is his new pitch. In the open game, he was using a ‘magic pitch’ that sinks at around 145 km/h, wasn’t he? If the number of different pitches that fall in addition to the split, which is one of his weapons, is increased to two, the probability of getting strikeouts will be much higher. Ohtani has always had a good sense for getting behind hitters with his pitches, so if he can use his new weapons well, I think a Cy Young Award is not just a dream.

However, it will take time for him to fully master his magic pitch. Mack Suzuki, 46, who played in the majors as a pitcher, reveals.

The feeling of holding each ball in the majors is different. The quality of the stitching and leather is not completely consistent, so the movement is not stable. The new ball is still in the testing stage. I think we will adjust it throughout the season while using it in actual games. Otani already has enough ability to win the Cy Young Award. When he perfects his new breaking ball, I think he will naturally be able to win a great title.

It is not only on the pitching side that expectations are high. A new rule will be introduced this season that allows pitchers to continue playing as a DH after a loss. The new rule is commonly known locally as the “Ohtani Rule,” as Ohtani, who is a two-sport athlete, will benefit from it to the fullest extent possible. Sports journalist Nachi Tomonari explains.

Nachi Tomonari, a sports journalist, explains: “An important factor in winning the home run crown is an increase in the number of at-bats. Last season, Otani hit a home run about once every 11.7 at-bats. This is a phenomenal pace considering that Guerrero Jr. (23), last season’s home run king, hit one about every 12.6 at bats, and Salvador Perez (31) hit one about every 12.9 at bats. Even if we assume that each of the 23 games he pitched last season will add one more at bat, that is at least two more home runs. Furthermore, in addition to the “Autumn Rule,” the DH system will be introduced in the National League this year. This will increase the number of at bats in the interleague games. Combined, there will be about 50 more home run opportunities. This rule change is huge.”

There are also changes in batting form.

Looking at the openers, I see that they have made their swings a little more compact this year in order to improve their mitt rate. Last year, Ohtani hit the top home run distance in the majors. The number of oversized bombs may decrease, but I think the emphasis on mitts will increase the number of home runs,” said Tomonari.

How far will the two-fisted approach evolve?

From the April 15, 2022 issue of FRIDAY

  • Photo AP/Afro

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