The derby for Japanese sensation Shohei Ohtani was in full swing over the weekend, with several teams, including marquee clubs like the Yankees and Red Sox, being ruled out of the running. Ken Rosenthal reported this morning that Ohtani will meet with seven teams: the Dodgers, Angels, Padres, Mariners, Giants, Rangers, and Cubs. The Rockies are out.
Still, we can dream about one way Ohtani could have fit perfectly on the Rockies. In particular, the Rockies could have offered a way for him to take full advantage of Coors Field.
That statement may not make much sense on the surface, as Ohtani has been mostly discussed as a pitcher (that makes sense given that he has posted a 2.07 ERA and 1.00 ERA with 203 strikeouts in 165 1⁄3 innings over his last two seasons in Japan). Ohtani, however, is also prolific at the plate, hitting .326/.411/.570 with 30 home runs in 525 at bats since the start of 2016.
Ohtani has expressed the desire to be both a hitter and a pitcher in the big leagues, which gives the Rockies an opportunity to use their home park and a couple areas of roster depth to make a unique pitch that could have caused Ohtani to pay more attention.
What the Rockies could have offered Ohtani is this: Make him their everyday right fielder at home and a member of the starting rotation on the road. That way, Ohtani would have gotten all of the benefits of hitting at Coors Field, but none of the burden of pitching there.
The Rockies 2018 schedule would allow for Ohtani to make these 22 starts, all away from Coors Field:
- April 4 at San Diego
- April 13 at Washington
- April 18 at Pittsburgh
- April 30 at Chicago Cubs
- May 6 at NY Mets
- May 18 at San Francisco
- May 23 at LA Dodgers
- June 6 at Cincinnati
- June 12 at Philadelphia
- June 17 at Texas
- June 26 at San Francisco
- July 1 at LA Dodgers
- July 8 at Seattle
- July 22 at Arizona
- July 30 at St. Louis
- August 4 at Milwaukee
- August 14 at Houston
- August 19 at Atlanta
- August 27 at LA Angels
- September 2 at San Diego
- September 16 at San Francisco
- September 22 at Arizona
Ohtani wouldn’t pitch and hit on back-to-back days, he wouldn’t go more than two weeks without a start on the mound, and, most importantly, he would get in 120-150 innings of work while avoiding pitching at altitude. It also would have freed him up to play in right field when the Rockies are at home, accumulating north of 300 at bats.
This plan would require some roster gymnastics throughout the season, maybe calling up an extra pitcher at home and an extra bench bat on the road, but the Rockies do have the personnel to accommodate Ohtani’s unique home/road platoon.
When Ohtani’s rotation spot would come up at home, the Rockies could have had the likes of Antonio Senzatela, Jeff Hoffman and Chad Bettis to make those starts if they are not part of the rotation already. They also could have played one of Ian Desmond, Gerardo Parra, Raimel Tapia or even David Dahl in right field on the road, presuming they are not in the lineup already.
To compete with the Dodgers in the NL West, the Rockies (or any team without Los Angeles’s unlimited resources) will have to do things that are unconventional and creative. This plan with Ohtani certainly qualifies.
While the Rockies are out, the plan still could work. They just need to find another two-way phenom. That can’t be that hard, right?