As the 2024 Major League Baseball season approaches, the spotlight intensifies on Shohei Ohtani, the former Los Angeles Angels' two-way sensation. Ohtani, known for his dual prowess as both a pitcher and a hitter, faces a pivotal year.
Despite not pitching in 2024 due to recovery, insiders are confident that this hiatus will not diminish his extraordinary value in the league. The expectation is that Ohtani, who may sign a decade-long contract, will return to pitching, but the duration of this phase of his career remains a subject of much speculation.
Sources from The Athletic quote an American League executive expressing uncertainty about Ohtani's long-term commitment to pitching: “I think he will come back and pitch very successfully for a time. But we need to understand his desire to continue this dual role.
Deep down, I see him primarily as a hitter. The question remains, how long does he want to, and can he, sustain pitching?”
Ohtani's Pitching Prospects
Echoing this sentiment, a National League executive also weighed in, highlighting the challenges in predicting Ohtani's future in pitching: “I’ll bet on his return, but it's tough to gauge the longevity.
What's his staying power?” Ohtani's journey has not been without hurdles. He has endured injuries affecting both aspects of his game, including a UCL injury requiring Tommy John surgery and an oblique injury that sidelined him during his MVP season's final stretch.
Despite these challenges, the consensus is that Ohtani will return to the mound. The rarity and value of his talent as a pitcher make his contribution in this role indispensable. However, the frequency and duration of his pitching stints are subject to ongoing debate.
Additionally, Ohtani's situation highlights a broader conversation in MLB about the sustainability of two-way players. His pioneering role in this area is both a testament to his unique abilities and a case study for future players aspiring to follow in his footsteps.
As the 2024 season looms, all eyes will be on Ohtani, not just for his anticipated return to pitching, but also for the strategic decisions that will shape the trajectory of his already illustrious career.