Shohei Otani won’t pitch in the World Baseball Classic – SB Nation

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Spring training is less than two weeks away, and shortly after that the World Baseball Classic will be here. The WBC isn’t always the most exciting event, but it is always fun to see which non-MLB player jumps into the spotlight on the big stage. In 2006, we had Daisuke Matsuzaka. In 2009, there was Yoenis Cespedes and Yu Darvish. In 2013, Kenta Maeda and Jose Abreu stood out. Looking ahead to this season, the best bet was always going to be Japanese superstar Shohei Otani. Unfortunately, we’ve just learned that he won’t be pitching in the event this year.

This is a huge bummer for baseball fans, as Otani is one of the most exciting pitchers in the world. At just 21 years old, he was already the best pitcher in Japan last season. Despite the new CBA hurting the value of young international players, the righty is still expected to come over to the States following the 2017 season. Still, while we’ll see him against major league competition soon enough, it would’ve been fun to get a little taste of him on that kind of stage this spring.

The good news is, he may still be available to hit for Team Japan this year. Oh yeah, did I mention he hits, too? On top of being the best pitcher in Japan, Otani is also among the best bats. In 2016, he put up a 1.004 OPS to go along with his 1.86 ERA. So, hopefully we’ll at least get to see him in this capacity. It just would’ve been amazing to see him play both ways in this tournament. At least now, though, we’ll have a better idea of whether Otani can really be a two-way player in the majors.


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