27-year-old Shohei Ohtani (Ōtani Shōhei, born July 5, 1994), nicknamed “Shotime”, is a Japanese professional baseball pitcher, designated hitter, and outfielder for the Los Angeles Angels of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously played for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters of Nippon Professional Baseball’s (NPB) Pacific League.
Ohtani was the first pick of the Fighters in the 2012 draft. He played in NPB for the Fighters from 2013 through 2017 as a pitcher and an outfielder. Ohtani recorded the fastest pitch by a Japanese pitcher and in NPB history at 165 kilometres per hour (102.5 mph).
Ohtani expressed a desire to move directly to the major leagues after high school and received interest from numerous teams including the Texas Rangers, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, and Los Angeles Dodgers.
On October 21, 2012, he announced that he would pursue a career in Major League Baseball rather than turn professional in Japan. The Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters decided to draft him anyway, knowing that there was a high likelihood he would not play for them.
On March 22, 2022, Major League Baseball introduced a new rule that allows for a pitcher in the batting order to remain in the game as a designated hitter after they are pulled from the pitching mound. The rule was colloquially dubbed the “Ohtani rule” because of Ohtani’s unique prowess as a two-way player.
The rule will enable Ohtani to remain in the game after he is done pitching at his customary designated hitter spot instead of being switched to a defensive position like the outfield, something that he did seven times in 2021.