Lindbergh: The most interesting man in baseball has an equally interesting teammate

From SABR member Ben Lindbergh at The Ringer on February 3, 2017:

On Tuesday, Japanese pitcher/hitter/superhero Shohei Otani and his Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters manager, Hideki Kuriyama, disappointed people on both sides of the Pacific by announcing that Otani won’t pitch in next month’s World Baseball Classic. On Friday, a second blow landed: Otani, the best pitcher and best hitter in Japan, won’t DH, either, as the right ankle injury that prevents him from pitching also ended his chances of one-way play. For Japanese fans, Otani’s absence is a big blow to a team whose success is a source of significant national pride. For American fans, it means missing an up-close glimpse of the most interesting man in the sport, whose debut on an American mound (and batter’s box) might be a few years away.

Days earlier, one of Otani’s Fighters teammates had sent his own regrets to Japan’s fans, unbeknownst to North America’s. Takuya Nakashima, Hokkaido’s 26-year-old shortstop, became the only player to decline an invitation to join Japan’s national team, opting to focus on his health and preparation for the upcoming Nippon Professional Baseball season rather than return to the international stage. Nakashima is not well known outside of Japan, nor should he be, based on the standard stats: He’s a subpar hitter, less valuable than Otani is as a DH alone. He probably won’t ever be posted or play in the majors, and no, you shouldn’t stash him in your super-deep dynasty league.

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Originally published: February 3, 2017. Last Updated: February 3, 2017.