Ohtani Out to Win Games and Fans in MLB
Backstories

Ohtani Out to Win Games and Fans in MLB

    Japanese baseball star Shohei Ohtani is proving to be a hit with the US media, telling reporters he wants to bring his success in Japan to his new team in the US, the Los Angeles Angels.

    "I am thankful to many people now that I'm starting my career as a Major Leaguer," he said. "I'll work to win the championship, with the support of our fans."

    His agent announced on December 8th that Ohtani had decided to sign with the Angels. More than 20 teams had expressed interest in him.

    As to why he chose the club, Ohtani said, "I had wonderful talks with all the teams I spoke to. I don't want to talk about their good points or bad points. I just felt the Angels was the right choice for me."

    Ohtani says he's looking forward to playing as a pitcher and batter. He says he wants to keep improving.

    Ohtani held negotiations with 7 teams, many of which are based on the West Coast. He says that he didn't enter into talks with large, well-funded teams, such as the New York Yankees.

    The Angels are based in Anaheim, California. The city is home to a Disneyland Resort and attracts a large number of Japanese tourists.

    The team competes in the West division of the American League. It finished second last season, failing to advance to the playoffs. The team has previously signed Japanese players such as slugger Hideki Matsui and pitcher Hisanori Takahashi.

    Regarding Ohtani's decision, Takahashi says he himself felt comfortable with the Angles, and thinks Ohtani made a good choice. He noted that "The team's atmosphere and the city's climate are very nice."

    A video uploaded to the team's Twitter account shows Ohtani's number--17. The tweet says "It's #ShoTime!", a reference to Ohtani's first name.

    Fans of Ohtani's previous team, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, support his choice. One said, "I'm sad, but I want Ohtani to do his best in the MLB."

    Another said, "I look forward to seeing how Ohtani performs."

    Former teammate Kohei Arihara says Ohtani's move to the Major Leagues finally feels real. He says he's really looking forward to seeing what Ohtani can do in the MLB as one of the top Japanese players in both batting and pitching.

    Who is Shohei Ohtani?

    The star Japanese baseball player spent 5 seasons with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters in Japan.

    The 23-year-old is 193 centimeters tall, weighs 97 kilograms, and is a two-way player, having both good pitching and batting skills. He is a right-handed pitcher and a left-handed batter.

    He attended Hanamaki Higashi High School in Iwate prefecture, northern Japan. Ohtani garnered attention for clocking 160 kilometer-per-hour pitches, and for hitting 56 home runs as a high school player.

    Shortly before Japan's professional baseball draft in 2012, Ohtani expressed his ambition to play in Major League Baseball.

    He was the first pick for the Fighters. Ohtani joined the team after it showed him a plan to train him as a pitcher-batter and support him in realizing his dream of playing in the major leagues.

    Ohtani played as a two-way player from his first year with the team. In his second year, he was ranked third in the league with an ERA (Earned Run Average) of 2.61 as a pitcher. He ended the season with 11 wins, the most on his team. And he threw a 162 kilometer-per-hour pitch, tying a Japanese record at the time.

    As a batter, he took the role of designated hitter, ending the season with a batting average of .274 and 10 home runs. He became the first player in Japan to have both double-digit wins as a pitcher and double-digit homers in the same season.

    In his third year, his batting average was .202 with 5 homers. He was a standout among the team's starting pitchers, appearing in 22 games and ending the season with 15 wins, 5 losses and an ERA of 2.24.

    He also held the distinction of having the most wins, the best ERA, and the highest winning percentage.

    In his 4th year, Ohtani amassed 10 wins as a pitcher with an ERA of 1.86. He also threw Japan's fastest pitch, clocking in at 165 kilometers per hour. As a batter, he beat his personal record, hitting 22 homers. He became the first player to win Japanese baseball's Best Nine award as both a pitcher and a designated hitter.

    After his 5th season with the club, Ohtani announced in November he would play in the MLB, achieving his longtime ambition and a new level of stardom.