With the 2023 MLB and fantasy baseball seasons just around the corner, it’s time to get ready to start strategizing for drafts thus upcoming spring. If you have the first pick in a fantasy baseball league, congratulations. It’s important to get the top selection right, but there are very few true candidates for that slot. Angels RHP/DH Shohei Ohtani is one player on that shortlist. No, Ohtani might not have desired position flexibility, but virtually no one can match his statistical contributions.
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A Look at Ohtani
Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani has proven to be a unicorn in Major League Baseball. That theme continued in 2022, as the Japanese sensation put forth yet another strong campaign. The 2021 AL MVP cracked 34 home runs for Anaheim last season, alongside 95 RBIs and 11 stolen bases. Used only as a DH last season, the 28-year-old also recorded a slash line of .273/.356/.519.
Ohtani’s offensive numbers were down from an incredible 2021 season, in which he hit .257 with 46 home runs, 100 RBIs, and 26 stolen bases. Still, Ohtani’s previous season still proved to be strong at the dish. However, we haven’t even touched on Ohtani’s prowess on the mound.
The Angels star won 15 games last season, and struck out 219 over 166 IP. Only five pitchers — Gerrit Cole, Corbin Burnes, Carlos Rodon, Aaron Nola, and Dylan Cease — accumulated more K’s than the right-hander in 2022. Ohtani finished last year’s campaign with a 2.33 ERA, an improvement from his 3.18 ERA in 2021. Ohtani’s power arsenal netted him a +1.1 in K/9 as compared to 2021, and his elite stuff should blow away plenty of hitters next season.
2023 Fantasy Overview
It’s been said over and over throughout the past few seasons, but it’s worth repeating yet again: Ohtani is in a league of his own. No player in Major League Baseball can do what Ohtani can both on the mound and in the field. After all, no one else finished in the top 10 in total strikeouts, and the top 20 in home runs other than Ohtani. What is even more impressive about Ohtani’s 2022 campaign was that in a number of different areas, the 28-year-old actually performed better than in his 2021 AL MVP run.
Even with #99 in The Bronx lurking, it’s next to near impossible to pass on Ohtani should one have the top pick in fantasy. Sure, Ohtani may not have the prodigious power that Aaron Judge possesses, but two back-to-back 30+ home run campaigns, alongside the potential of receive 10-15 wins and possibly 200 strikeouts, is hard to pass up.