Dodgers News: How Shohei Ohtani can help prove that 2018 is the Dodgers’ year

(Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images)
(Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images) /

Shohei Ohtani is headed to the Major Leagues and all of the stories we’ve heard about Japan’s Babe Ruth are about to become the most important narrative of the 2018 season.

One undeniable, unwavering fact I’ve learned about baseball is this — players want to win. Players want to win and, when the off-season rolls around and it’s time for free agents to sign with a team, what happened in October means almost everything. While many players sign with teams who are bound to head back to the postseason, some players sign with teams that are on the rise.

Both ways are understandable, and both are honorable. Jon Lester, for example, signed with the Cubs prior to the 2015 season, after a year in which they won 73 games. Two years later, Lester and the loveable losers won the World Series.

Shohei Ohtani could be different.

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Ohtani, should he sign with the Dodgers, will join a club already in the middle of a postseason run that is unprecedented, and unmatched by any team before them.  The Dodgers are not on their way to contending — they are contending — and the possible addition of Ohtani could take the reigning NL Champs to another level in 2018.

If Ohtani signs with LA, he could join the rotation, pitching alongside Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, and Alex Wood, or he could join the lineup as the slugger the Dodgers need.

Or, he could do both. Ohtani could be the pitcher that LA needs and the slugger that puts them over the top.

Whether or not what happened in October will have any effect on where Ohtani chooses to play is yet to be determined, but if it does, the Dodgers could be at the top of his list.

The Yankees can’t be ignored, though.

The New York Yankees are, reportedly, a front-runner to sign Ohtani. Their postseason run was a surprise to me, and probably to others, too. They proved us wrong.

Should Ohtani decide to play ball in the Bronx, the Yankees will be bona fide contenders in the American League. But, let’s be honest, no matter which team Ohtani chooses to sign with, the effects will be the same.

He’s really good at baseball.

That’s not going to change.

This is Ohtani’s chance to write his name in baseball history, and whether he’s wearing pinstripes or Dodger blue will be but a chapter in a narrative that will last his entire career.

Let’s say the Dodgers sign Ohtani. They could let him pitch and hit, it’s definitely an idea that could be perfected in Spring Training, but they may not. Should he pitch for the reigning NL Champs? Or should he hit home runs beyond the lights and into the parking lot at Chavez Ravine?

In all honesty, I can’t decide. Over the span of five seasons playing in Japan, Ohtani has a .286 batting average, and a 2.52 ERA. His ERA and his batting average are similar to those of the best pitchers, and the best hitters in the game.

That’s unheard of.

Well, not technically, but it’s rare. So rare that Ohtani’s numbers and his ability to pitch and hit are likened to that of Babe Ruth. Over his 22 years in the game, Ruth boasted a .342 batting average, and a 2.28 era. Ruth is a legend. That, I’ve found, is another undeniable and unwavering fact about this game.

Here is something I am confident in. Should Ohtani choose the Dodgers, he can help prove that 2018 is their year.

We said it last season, and we’re saying it again this season; this is our year. This team is going to go the distance. The Dodgers can win without Ohtani. They can make it to the World Series and win it and change the game but think about how great it would be if he was part of it. It’d be like something right off the desk of a Hollywood screenwriter.

Next: Why the Dodgers should re-sign Yu Darvish this offseason

Then again, that’s what we do in LA, we write great stories, and we hope that they change the world.

Baseball is no exception.