On the night of the 1st (hereafter Korean time), when the charter plane carrying Shohei Otani (LA Angels) arrived at Haneda Airport in Japan, the arrivals hall was crowded with about 70 reporters and numerous fans.
Ohtani joined the Japanese national team in the World Baseball Classic (WBC) on the 2nd across the Pacific Ocean immediately after starting the mound in the exhibition game against the Oakland Athletics this morning. It has not been decided which game Ohtani will start in the Group B league in the first round, but it is known that at least the possibility of starting against Korea is slim.안전놀이터
If so, will Korea have a chance to face ‘pitcher’ Ohtani in this WBC? If it is not the group stage, the only stage where Korea and Japan can meet is the final. If Korea and Japan, which belong to the same Group B, take 1st and 2nd place, they will meet the 1st and 2nd places in Group A respectively in the quarterfinals and face the teams that passed through Groups C and D in the semifinals. If both Korea and Japan pass the semifinals, they will of course face each other in the finals.
In other words, the odds of Korean batters hitting the ball thrown by Ohtani in this tournament are objectively extremely low. Given both the odds of both teams advancing to the finals and the odds of Ohtani getting on the mound for the finals, the odds of winning the lottery would be similar.
The only time Korean batters faced Ohtani was in the 1st Premier 12 in 2015. It is a tournament that Korea won.
At that time, Ohtani pitched twice against Korea. It was the first leg and semi-final of the Group B preliminary round.
In the preliminary round, the Korean batters got only two hits and two walks in six innings against starter Ohtani, and failed to draw a single point. He struck out as many as 10 times. The fastball, splitter, and slider that reached up to 161 km all had an expression of “what kind of pitcher is like that?” Korea started with Kim Gwang-hyeon, Cho Sang-woo, Cha Woo-chan, and Jung Woo-ram to minimize the number of runs, but lost 0-5.
After finishing the group stage with 3 wins and 2 losses, Korea met Cuba in the quarterfinals and advanced to the semifinals with a 7-2 victory thanks to hard hitting by Park Byeong-ho, Jeong Keun-woo, and Yang Eui-ji. The Japanese starter was Ohtani again. In 7 innings, he struck out 11 strikeouts, displaying supernatural power and playing with Korean batters.
Korea, which was trailing 0-3, had no other way to deal with Ohtani. He was a spectator of Ohtani’s ‘strikeout show’ with a fastball of around 160km. After Ohtani went down, Korea performed a miraculous comeback in the top of the 9th inning, winning 4-3 and winning the championship by beating the United States in the final, but the impression of Ohtani remained strong.
Ohtani threw a total of 13 innings in two games against Korea, gave up 3 hits, struck out 21, and tied the game with no runs. As a member of the Nippon Ham Fighters at the time, he was already attracting attention from the major leagues by posting 15 wins and 5 losses, an ERA of 2.24, and 196 strikeouts in the regular season. In terms of time, it was 7 years and 4 months ago.
Ohtani is stronger now. He still throws fastballs with a speed of 160km, and is armed with various pitches such as sliders, splitters, curveballs, cutters, and two-seams, which are his main weapons. Last year, he filled the required innings for the first time, posting a 15-9 record with a 2.33 ERA and 219 strikeouts, ranking fourth in the American League Cy Young Award voting.
Ohtani hasn’t pitched against Korean hitters since 2018, when he entered the major leagues. Ha-seong Kim (San Diego Padres) and Tommy Edman (St. Louis Cardinals), key members of the national team, also failed to hit Ohtani’s ball. Not only the two players, but Lee Jung-hoo would also like to have a chance to face Ohtani.
On the other hand, Korean pitchers can watch ‘batter’ Ohtani at the Tokyo Dome on March 10th at 7pm. The batting order is unknown, but it can be assumed that he is in the starting lineup as a designated hitter.