In Japan, Ohtani Is a Special Player but Definitely Not Babe Ruth

“Ohtani is not going to hit 60 homers,” Whiting said in reference to the single-season major league mark that Ruth set in 1927 and then stood until 1961, when Roger Maris hit 61. For one thing, Whiting noted, Ohtani — who is listed at 6 feet 3 inches and 189 pounds by Baseball Reference — does not have the imposing physique of a slugger, at least by American standards.

For another, the most home runs Ohtani hit in any Japanese season was 22, in 2016, although that number came in only 323 at-bats.

“He will probably do better as a pitcher,’’ Whiting predicted. “Playing both positions is probably too much to ask.”

A more accurate comparison, Whiting, Sasaki and others said, is to measure Ohtani against Yu Darvish, who, like Ohtani, played for the Nippon-Ham Fighters before moving to the major leagues. Darvish made the switch in 2012 and since then has compiled a 56-42 record as a member of the Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Darvish has never been a two-way player, but he, like Ohtani, began pitching for the Fighters at age 18, in 2005. Over seven seasons, he compiled a 93-38 won-lost record with a 1.99 earned run average. Ohtani, in five seasons…

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