Like Ohtani, I want to see an ace in the fourth.
“Who do you want to face, Otani the pitcher or Otani the hitter?”
This was the most common question I was asked by Japanese journalists during the 2015 Premier12. At the time, Shohei Ohtani of the Nippon Ham Fighters of Nippon Professional Baseball was playing both pitcher and hitter. I answered honestly, “I want to compete with Otani as a hitter because he’s tougher than a pitcher.” Ohtani made two appearances in the tournament, the opening game and the semifinals against Korea, and shut down our offense for a total of 13 innings, giving up just three hits, striking out 21 and walking none. I knew Ohtani was a great pitcher, but facing him made it even clearer.
Seven years later, “Ohtani fever” is sweeping Major League Baseball (MLB). Ohtani, the 2021 American League Most Valuable Player (MVP), has been explosive at the plate this season. He has already surpassed Aaron Judge (New York Yankees), who hit 61 home runs last year, to become the MLB’s all-time home run leader.
Ohtani is “dominating” American baseball. The home run leader is also a quality starting pitcher. Ohtani’s performance has led to a better perception and appreciation of Japanese baseball and Japanese major leaguers.
Korean baseball also had many players who hit well and threw well. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Park No-joon and Kim Gun-woo of Seolin Sanggo (now Seolin Internet Information) were pitchers and batters in the No. 3 and No. 4 positions. Park appeared in 43 games (3.13 ERA) as a pitcher as well as a hitter from 1986 to 1988, when he joined the OB Baseball team from Korea University. Kim Sung-han of the Hattae Tigers batted .305 with 13 home runs and 69 RBIs in 1982, the first year of professional baseball, and went 10-5 with a 2.79 ERA.
Many players in the past have combined pitching and hitting. Playing a “two-track” game will improve your understanding of baseball and your ability to read the game. If you pitch and hit in amateur baseball and then focus on pitching as a professional, your ability to read opponents and make plays will only improve. This is thanks to his experience as a hitter. This is the case with Ohtani. His natural talent and the know-how he gained from playing the game synergize.
South Korean amateur baseball introduced the designated hitter system in 2004. Since then, many players in middle and high school have focused on either pitching or hitting. Naturally, there are fewer number four hitters and aces.
Choo Shin-soo (now with the SSG Landers) was a four-hitter and ace at Busan High School. He was a left-handed pitcher with a fastball that could reach speeds of over 150 kilometers per hour. A promising pitcher, Shin-soo Choo moved to the United States and, at a crossroads, chose to play baseball, eventually becoming one of the best Korean MLB players. He is one of the last generations of active players to have played both pitcher and hitter.
Choo agrees with me that it’s a good idea to combine pitching and hitting in the amateur ranks. “It was very helpful for me to play both pitcher and hitter when I was in school,” he said, “Hitters at that time hit a lot of home runs with aluminum bats. As a pitcher, I paid a lot of attention to the left and right corner work, which improved my pitches.”메이저사이트
As the recent international tournaments have shown, the quality of pitching in the KBO is abysmal. The mound needs to be revitalized. Right now, Korean baseball is obsessed with fastballs. It’s not all about throwing 150-160 kilometers per hour fastballs. Moon Dong-ju and Kim Seo-hyun (Hanwha Eagles) are still a long way off.
I want to see an ace and a No. 4 hitter again. We need to get rid of the designated hitter system in amateur baseball.