Shohei Ohtani’s New Game: Smash His Dirty Turbo Dipper

By Rob Friedman, aka “Pitching Ninja”
FOX Sports MLB Analyst

We know that Shuhei Ohtani He is an almost legendary creature, an offensive juggernaut (30 home runs this year) combined with an ace shooter with a Major League Leader K/9 (among starters eligible) of 12:1 and a Pitching WAR of 4.6 that ranks him among Max Scherzer And the Carlos Rodon.

But what impresses me most about Otani (aside from his legendary talent) is his ability to constantly evolve as a pitcher. Like many of the greats, he is never satisfied and is always looking to improve his arsenal to stay one step ahead of the hitters.

Perhaps nothing illustrates Otani’s continued improvement more than adding a sloppy turbocharged snorkel mid-season, seemingly for no reason. Otani was asked about his grip on drowning in a June interview with Time (at the 42-second mark) and said he didn’t have a sinker.

And this was true. At the time of that interview, just two months ago, Otiani hadn’t thrown a game sink in his career — not because he needed one, because he was already a dominant bowler and had a great season on the bump.

It’s as if Ohtani took this sinking question as a challenge: “I might not have a sinker right now, but just keep an eye on me.”

Ohtani, the always mad scientist, went to the lab and decided to make a sinker. While most bowlers wait until the end of the season to master the new pitch, Ohtani added this right knockout mid-season. Throwing a weight at a game in July and early August, he began working regularly on this new pitch in his arsenal, adding it to his already-deadly set of 100 mph four fast seams and elite off-speed weapons, including a nearly uncut splitter at a rate A 49% whiff this year, a wicked slider and a bad curve ball have whiff rates around 40%, plus an average cut-out.

Here’s a look at Ohtani’s dirty 97 mph submersible action in August, and you can see that it’s a real submersible with great drop as well as arm side running (with an average of nearly seven inches more fall than the four-stitch speedball and about 12.5 inch more horizontal movement):

But even that evil excavator wasn’t good enough for Otani. On August 31, he faced Clay Holmeswho threw this diver at 100 mph to Otani.

The look on Ohtani’s face was great after he looked at the scoreboard and saw that the pitch was 100mph. At first, I took that expression as if he admired the speed of a Holmes diver, but later, Otani might have deposited this minus away in his memory bank, saying to himself, “Hmmm…a diver at 100mph? I must remember.” I’ll add that to my arsenal at the next outing.”

Sure enough, during Ohtani’s next outing, he worked in a 100mph turbo diver! Here is an amazing stadium:

This 100 mph excavator had a horizontal movement of 21 inches with a significant drop of 20 inches, with gravity. To show how much movement this new magical diver has more than Otani’s four-stitch fastball, here’s the 100mph fastball with his 100mph diver:

According to Codify Baseball, this 100 mph diver had the most horizontal movement of any strike court thrown at this speed in the MLB in over three years!

So Otani not only added a cool mid-season, but he added really amazing ground. They are quite mythical stuff, proving that Ohtani not only has uncanny physical talents, but can also change the shape of his arsenal on the court whenever he wants.

Otani’s development of his turbo piston is summarized in this video, where he only took a simple poetic license.

Ohtani is an expert in merchandising, and every start is baseball’s must-watch. Heck, even watching Ohtani take cues during the match is fun.

I can’t wait to see what other tricks Otani has up his sleeve. Maybe a soccer 90 mph?

Personally, I wouldn’t put anything through it. It’s like baseball is a video game and Ohtani has administrative rights to add new skills at will.

Rob Friedman is an MLB tip analyst for FOX Sports and his work has appeared on several Major League Baseball programs. Follow him on Twitter @PitchingNinja


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