clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Another open letter to Shohei Ohtani

The American League Rookie of the Year didn’t respond to my first letter, so here’s a follow up.

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Los Angeles Angels Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Mr. Ohtani,

I sent you a letter about a year ago, but I never heard back. Maybe I had the wrong address or maybe you’ve just been really busy. Playing on both sides of the ball probably doesn’t leave you with a lot of time for pen pals. I get it.

The point of that original letter was to let you know about how disappointed we in New York were to hear that you were not granting the Yankees a chance to make an in-person presentation to your camp. We thought we’d be able to woo you towards the Bronx but it turns out the Angels had your heart all along. You chose Mike Trout and a stadium in the shadow of Disneyland over Aaron Judge and a city where dollar pizza joints are essentially five star restaurants. That’s a decision you’ll have to live with.

Your spurning allowed the Yankees to sign CC Sabathia and acquire the reigning National League MVP, Giancarlo Stanton. They went on to win 100 games and play meaningful baseball into October. The Angels...not so much. As cool as it must be to play with Trout, playing sub .500 baseball and ending the season 17 games back of the Wild Card probably isn’t what you had in mind.

In my first correspondence, I talked about how you’d probably get booed in the Bronx and I was right. That weekend at Yankee Stadium in May didn’t go so well. You didn’t pitch, you didn’t have a hit, you were relentlessly booed, and your team lost the series. You have to understand though, that booing was because we knew you were the real deal. Winning the American League Rookie of the Year last night proved that.

You’re going to catch significant, indirect heat from New Yorkers over the next few days. A lot of people are going to be angry that you beat out Miguel Andujar and—to a lesser extent—Gleyber Torres for that award. You know what? You deserve it. What you did this season was outrageous.

When you floundered in spring training, we all thought you were a bust. Giving up three home runs in 2.2 innings over two games and pitching to a 27.00 ERA isn’t exactly “living up to the hype.” The .125/.222/.125 and zero homers in 32 at-bats didn’t help either. Then, the season started.

The possibility that we might have misjudged you started to leak in when you allowed one hit, one walk, and struck out 12 through seven innings in your second start. Then you mashed dingers in three straights games in early April and our minds were collectively changed. Ending the season at .285/.361/.564 with 22 home runs in 114 games, while posting a 3.31 ERA with 63 strike outs in 10 appearances is something that the modern baseball world doesn’t really know how to digest yet. What you did is lunacy.

Andujar and Torres were deserving of the award as well. In any other year, they would have been the top two candidates. They had historic seasons that produced offensive stats only seen by the likes of Mickey Mantle, Lou Gehrig, and Joe Dimaggio. Andujar’s 27 home runs and 47 doubles will be talked about for years. However, that just underlines the season you had.

In the end, the Rookie of the Year award goes to the player who brings their team the most value. Your ability to both hit and pitch at a high level means that you had more opportunities to contribute and you didn’t disappoint. Your collective 3.8 fWAR, compared to Andujar’s 2.7 and Torres’ 1.9 speaks for itself. You simply brought more value than any other rookie.

Of course, Yankee fans and players are going to be upset. We all watched two young kids put on a show this year. This will be exacerbated by the fact that one of those players has a stat line that can make a compelling argument for his right to the rookie honors. People also tend to confuse team success and player value, so the Angels’ tough 2018 campaign won’t make it more clear cut.

Despite the disappointment of seeing your guy fall short of the recognition you think he deserves, there’s really not much to complain about for the Yankees. An award is great but having two players with stat lines that qualify them as Rookie of the Year finalists on a 100-win team is far greater. Even though seeing you take the honors makes the remembrance of your decision to not include the Yankees on your shortlist of teams sting a bit more, Mr. Ohtani, it’s a momentary pain. That two-way magic could have done wonders in the Bronx, but two rookie studs are better than one.

Congrats on your well-deserved win. You put together a mind-melting highlight reel for your rookie season in Major League Baseball. It unfortunately meant that Andujar couldn’t get his spotlight, but I think come next October, he’ll feel just fine about that.

Thanks for your time, please respond so I know that you got my letter.

Kenny Crocker

P.S. I’d probably still take Gleyber Torres over everyone.