Texas Rangers

One Rangers player's scouting report on Ohtani: 'Some of the best tools in the game'

Shohei Ohtani is all the rage after a hot start to the season following a dismal spring.
Shohei Ohtani is all the rage after a hot start to the season following a dismal spring. The Associated Press

The oddsmakers at BetDSI Sportsbook have Ohtani Fever as much as all those baseball scouts and writers tripping over themselves as they try to make amends for casting doubt on the Japanese star after his putrid spring training.

BetSDI is listing Shohei Ohtani as the favorite to win the American League MVP, No. 1 even over his Los Angeles Angels teammate Mike Trout and reigning MVP Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros.

BetSDI also had Tiger Fever, posting Tiger Woods as the favorite to win the Masters, so proceed cautiously.

But caution has been thrown to the wind after two Ohtani starts on the mound — against Oakland — and 19 plate appearances. They've been anywhere from good to spectacular, as he flirted with a perfect game Sunday and has homered in three straight games as a designated hitter.

His exploits earned him AL Player of the Week honors.

There is no doubt that every team in the major leagues would have gambled on Ohtani over the winter as he announced his intentions to play in MLB. The Texas Rangers were one of the seven finalists given a chance to win him over.

Not winning the lottery still stings some in the organization.

The Rangers will have to wait until Tuesday to see Ohtani first-hand in a game that matters. He was off Monday for the opener of a three-game series, as it was his day off after pitching and one of his days off from talking to the media.

Make no mistake, though, that Ohtani Fever was moving in on Globe Life Park, though with some trepidation.

But, the question started, is he really this good?

"For me, my opinion, I think he's got some of the best tools in the game," Rangers right-hander Chris Martin said. "His personality and his drive to be the best, that's especially going to help."

If anyone would know, it's Martin, the former Arlington High star. He was Ohtani's teammate the past two seasons with the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, and Martin set aside time before the game to meet up with Ohtani in the weight room.

Only 23, Ohtani hasn't gotten too big for his britches despite being called the Babe Ruth of Japan and actually doing something so far this season that no one in the AL had done since Ruth 100 years ago.

"He's a good dude. Very humble," Martin said. "I was talking to him about how's got three homers and is doing pretty good, and he said, 'I'm getting lucky.' That's the kind of guy he is."

As a player, Ohtani is a left-handed power hitter with above-average speed. On the mound, he blazes fastballs at 100-mph and hurts hitters' feelings with a 92-mph split-fingered fastball.

He retired the first 19 hitters Sunday before A's shortstop Marcus Semien singled to start the seventh. Ohtani walked his first batter in the seventh, his final inning, and finished with 12 strikeouts. In the process Ohtani became the first AL player since Ruth in 1918 to homer in three straight games in the same season he started a game at pitcher.

Those same A's struck out 11 times in five innings against Cole Hamels, who was getting knocked around by the Toronto Blue Jays for seven runs (five earned) in 5 1/3 innings as Ohtani started his gem.

Martin offered some caution when speaking about Ohtani. It's early, just as it was in spring training when he went 4 for 32 (.125) at the plate with no homers and had a 27.00 ERA in his two Cactus League starts and wasn't much better in B games or minor-league games.

The unknown for Ohtani is how he will stand up to a more condensed schedule than in Japan.

"Everyone was getting a little freaked out there in spring training," Martin said. "Playing with him and knowing him and what kind of guy he is and how good he is ... I think that was going to translate over here.

"Guys are going to get some video on him, and stuff like that, but his stuff and mental game are going to be good. He's what, 23? He's got the young body to get through all the aches and pains, if he even has any. Will it catch up to him? I don't know. Time will tell."

Ah, time, the factor that is so often forgotten in baseball. Maybe time is the cure to Ohtani Fever.

He's the sudden favorite to the AL MVP.

Anybody want to bet against him?

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