Apr 14

Hitter or pitcher? Why Shohei Ohtani’s fantasy value is best on the mound

Hey hey, Shohei! You’re No. 1 on the Player Rater!

Through one week — OK, 11 days (or the length of the ESPN first “week”) — no star in fantasy baseball has shined brighter than Shohei Ohtani’s, the Los Angeles Angels’ hitter/pitcher. And he’s worthy of that dual label, having already provided sizable contributions on both sides of the ball: He’s tied for fifth in the majors in home runs (3) on the hitting side, and stands alone in third in strikeouts (18) on the pitching side.

If you’ve been watching, you’ve seen what’s behind it: A splitter that has been positively filthy, one that he has thrown 32 percent of the time overall and 48 percent in two-strike counts, making it his put-away pitch. Ohtani’s splitter has been worth 3.7 runs above average per FanGraphs, making it the eighth most-valuable individual pitch thus far, behind only Sean Manaea’s four-seam fastball (6.7), Jameson Taillon’s four-seam fastball (5.4), Chris Rusin’s four-seam fastball (4.9), Ian Kennedy’s four-seam fastball (4.8), Luis Severino’s slider (4.2), David Price’s cutter (4.1) and Gerrit Cole’s four-seam fastball (3.8). Ohtani’s splitter also generated 16 swings and misses on Sunday, which is tied for the most by any pitcher’s splitter in a single game since 2009, which is the first season for which our internal pitch-tracking tool has data.

“Denver’s a punter’s paradise,” King (Marquette, not Peter) said. “The ball definitely travels a lot further. I’ve always enjoyed punting out here in the altitude just because the ball travels further.”

Of course, there’s more to special teams success than just being able to kick the tar out of the ball, and the Broncos coaches are going to have to work to get King used to the difference to keep him from just blasting everything through the end zone.

But getting King (Marquette, not Peter) for a three-year, $7 million deal seems like good business, since he was already one of the league’s strongest punters (and fun, which it’s important to remember the game is still allowed to be).

Gettleman might be looking to duplicate the formula he used to build Carolina into a Super Bowl team with Cam Newton and a powerhouse defense leading the way. Expensive wide receivers were never part of the Panthers way under Gettleman.texans_015

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