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Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani is baseball's first two-way star in years, and he's creating a dilemma in fantasy leagues

Japanese phenom Shohei Ohtani is baseball's first two-way star in years, and he's creating a dilemma in fantasy leagues

Shohei Ohtani

  • Shohei Ohtani is the latest Japanese baseball star to make the jump to Major League Baseball as a member of the Los Angeles Angels.
  • Ohtani is a two-way player and his unique skill set has caused issues for fantasy baseball leagues.
  • Some fantasy baseball leagues are allowing players to draft Ohtani twice, once as a pitcher and once as a hitter, which could lead to Ohtani being on two different teams at the same time.
  • Other leagues are only allowing Ohtani to be drafted once.

ESPN has figured out how it will let fantasy baseball players use incoming two-way phenomenon Shohei Ohtani. 

For the purposes of ESPN fantasy baseball leagues, Ohtani will count as one player, whom players can choose, before the beginning of each scoring period, to start as either a pitcher or a hitter. 

ESPN’s decision differs from that of Yahoo!, who have opted to create two distinct fantasy Ohtanis for players to draft and own. This could lead to odd scenarios where Ohtani is on two teams in the same league.

These two Ohtanis can be drafted and owned by two different fantasy owners,” according to Yahoo. “In private leagues, commissioners can use simple workarounds to ensure that a manager who drafts one version of Ohtani is assigned the other, if that’s the preference of your group.”

“[Ohtani] can’t help but consume the fantasy baseball headlines, if not because of his potentially lofty impact, then certainly because of the unusualness of his anticipated role,” writes ESPN’s Tristan H. Cockcroft. As we wrote after he first signed with the Los Angeles Angels in MLB,  “Ohtani hits almost as well as he pitches, making him a rare two-way player.” 

As far as real baseball is concerned, the Angels see Ohtani primarily as a pitcher, before deciding upon his offensive role, according to ESPN. The Angels will use Ohtani in the rotation before deciding how often he will be used as the team’s designated hitter.

In an interview with Awful Announcing, Pierre Becquey, ESPN’s deputy editor for fantasy and esports, explains how the site came to this decision. 

The idea was to allow users to use Ohtani in ways that a Major League Baseball franchise would, while remaining true to the fundamentals of fantasy baseball, which is that hitters get you hitting points even if they pitch, and pitchers get you pitching points even if you pitch. It was about balancing what traditional fantasy baseball with the excitement and newness of Ohtani and how we believed our players wanted to use them.”

I believe that we were very determined to allow Ohtani to be a single player because that’s what the story is with Ohtani,” Becquey went on to say. “He’s a single player coming to Major League Baseball, and so we want our players to be able to draft him as a single player.”

Either way, that Ohtani has caused such a debate within the world of fantasy baseball is in and of itself a testament to how unique and exciting of a player he is.  

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