Arthur J. Villasanta - Fourth Estate Contributor
Anahein, CA, United States (4E) - Major League Baseball's next Babe Ruth -- Japanese ace pitcher and power slugger Shohei Ohtani -- can hurl a four-seam fastball at 165 km/h; has an ERA of 2.52 and a batting average of .286.
This two-way phenom, who takes the role of designated hitter when he's not pitching, is only 23. He's famous in his baseball crazy country as "Japan's Babe Ruth" and he just signed a deal that saw him join the Los Angeles Angels. Ohtani will wear Number 17 for the Angels.
He will join the legendary Mike Trout, a shoo-in Hall of Famer and a six-time MLB All-Star and two-time American League (AL) Most Valuable Player, in the Angels bullpen.
Ohtani snubbed the New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres and Seattle Mariners to go play for the Angels at Angels Stadium in Anaheim, which everyone knows as the site for the original Disneyland.
The Angels said they are "honored Shohei Ohtani has decided to join the Angels organization."
Pundits said Ohtani's coming means Angels, second placer behind world champion Houston Astros in the AL West last season, have become a legitimate division contender. Ohtani is being hailed by media as "the most fascinating player in all of baseball" given his play in Japan has been phenomenal.
Pitching for the Nippon Ham Fighters, Ohtani officially recorded the fastest pitch by a Japanese pitcher in Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) history at 165 kilometers per hour (102.5 miles per hour).
In his five seasons with the Fighters, Ohtani had a 42-15 record as its ace pitcher, with a 2.52 career ERA. He struck out 624 batters in 543 innings.
At the plate, he is a .286 career hitter with 48 home runs; 150 runs and 166 RBIs in 1,170 plate appearances, mostly as a designated hitter.
In comparison, the fastest pitch in MLB history was a 169.1 km/h heater thrown on Sept. 24, 2010 by New York Yankees relief pitcher Aroldis Chapman, who also holds the Guinness World Record for fastest baseball pitch.
The Angels haven't won a playoff game since 2009, but this will change over the next few years as Ohtani finds his footing on the unfamiliar turf of the MLB.
And why did Ohtani join the Angels, of all teams?
"I just felt a strong connection with the Angels," said Ohtani through an interpreter.
Angels GM Billy Eppler described Ohtani as "very humble" and compared his mental makeup to that of Trout, who will play for the Angels until 2020.
Ohtani's future impact on the Angels is being compared to that of Trout. Nicknamed "The Millville Meteor", Trout was a first-round pick by the Angels in the 2009 MLB draft. He won the 2012 AL Rookie of the Year Award unanimously.
Trout is regarded as one of the most outstanding young players in the history of baseball, as well as one of the best current players in all of MLB.
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