It looks like the Los Angeles Angels will be the only ones getting full value out of Shohei Ohtani this season.
Ohtani, the Japanese pitching-hitting phenom who recently signed with the Angels, is about to bring a skill set to Major League Baseball that hasn’t been seen in roughly a century. His move to the United States also has peaked the interests of fantasy baseball players, who’ve been wondering how different leagues will make him available.
Well, after much debate, Yahoo! has decided it will split Ohtani into two different players, according to Baseball America. That means if you want to accrue both Ohtani’s pitching and hitting stats, you’ll need to draft him twice.
If you’ve ever played fantasy baseball, you likely know that if you start a pitcher, you only get credit for his pitching stats, even if he’s in the lineup. If San Francisco Giants ace Madison Bumgarner, for example, belts two home runs on the same day he pitches, it matters not, as you only get the pitching stats.
While solving that particular issue apparently wasn’t on the table, one option included giving Ohtani dual-functionality, essentially allowing players to toggle his position depending on where he starts on a given day. A team of Yahoo! content managers and software engineers reportedly entertained that idea, but decided against it.
“There were a handful of exceptions in a room full of 20 people talking about this who were against this from a user-experience standpoint,” Yahoo! content manager Guy Lake said, via Baseball America. “But I would say 15 or 16 people in the room were in favor of it, as was I.
“Why? Because it’s freaking cool. It’s cool to be able to take your starting pitcher one day, and then—maybe not the next day, but the following day—you can slot him into your utility spot, or maybe outfield. That’s just an exceptionally cool thing.”
Unfortunately, that solution, while cool, still would not allow players to get both Ohtani’s hitting and pitching stats on days he pitches. Ultimately, Yahoo! feels it made the most out of a difficult situation.
“I would love it if we could say, ‘No problem,’ (and encompass all of Ohtani’s value into one draftable player),” Lake said. “If it were easy, there would be one. Let’s be clear about that: It’s not easy, but we’ve come up with what we think is the best from a set of imperfect choices.”