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Tuesday 23rd Jan 2018

Now that most leagues have decided what to do with Shohei Ohtani, I have a question: Should he even be eligible as a pitcher to begin the 2018 season?

Stop rolling your eyes and stay with me. The rule almost everyone uses for players not appearing in MLB, or a minor league affiliate is assigning eligibility as the position played most in their league. In 2017, Ohtani appeared more at designated hitter than pitcher – WAY more. According to his page on Baseball-Reference, Ohtani appeared in 65 as a designated hitter, compared to only five as a pitcher. By the letter of the law, doesn’t this make Ohtani utility-only to start the upcoming season?

I’m not sure the answer is unequivocally “NO!”

The decision to make him pitcher-eligible is driven by the likelihood he’s a bigger difference maker from the mound than the batter’s box. What if the background were reversed and he profiled as a potential Triple Crown winner with less promising pitching skills? Would we be considering Ohtani as both, considering the 65 to five game disparity? I’m not convinced the answer is no-brainer, “YES!”

The thought emanated from a discussion with Ron Shandler and Brian Walton concerning how we’re going to handle Ohtani in the XFL, a keeper league where Ohtani has been owned as a farm player by a prescient participant for multiple years. Ron suggested we first need to define whether the player pool needs to be divided into a hitting and pitching class, then decide eligibility within each class. The final piece would be whether an individual player can have eligibility in both classes?

Even this isn’t cut and dried, since the designations need to cover all players, so someone couldn’t have Madison Bumgarner, as the obvious example, getting hitting stats.

Another major consideration is germane to keeper leagues. The mechanism in place to determine initial eligibility should also cover keeper eligibility. Precedence and consistency are two principles integral to a league’s constitution.

Finally, it can be argued we all caught a break with Ohtani signing in the American League as that mostly masks the issue whether Ohtani receives hitting stats the days he starts on the hill in an interleague affair played in an National League park. Especially in dynasty formats, there’s a strong possibility Ohtani plays for a club in the Senior Circuit sometime in his career.

I don’t mean to open Pandora’s Box, but the more I think about it, the more I can see Cousin Vinny making the case Ohtani should begin 2018 with just utility eligibility, then picking up pitcher eligibility after five games, or whatever threshold your league employs.

Now, can you tell us by what you see in this posting, if the defense's case holds water?

Or is the defense wrong?

Please feel free to chime in below in the comments or on the site’s revamped forums.

Comments   

0 #7 Todd Zola 2018-01-12 17:53
Quoting greatko13:
This seems to be less of an issue if a league has a so-called "targeted position" rules. Our league's rule reads: "At the draft, teams can draft or place players at a new targeted position if there is significant evidence that they will be playing a new position as a starter."Such a rule now adds even another layer of value with Ohtani because, whatever else is, he is clearly "targeted" for a spot in the Angels rotation (six-man or otherwise).

Absent such a rule, I think your argument is technically correct. But I also think that leagues shouldn't be slaves to rigid adherence to rules (at least in the off-season) and should feel free to debate and hopefully come to a consensus as to what makes the most sense, which in this case to me seems to mean treating Ohtani as a pitcher (at least), even if it is technically an exception to the rule (which I suspect will be a one-off, at least for a while).

I've been in leagues with the common sense rule, it's an option. I've also been in leagues where no gray area is necessary.

To me, the clear fix is defining a hitting classification, a pitching classification and the eligibility intrinsic to each, then allow an individual player to have eligibility in both.

Once that's established, the league determines how to handle the two-way player, in part based on what their commissioner service avails.
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0 #6 greatko13 2018-01-12 17:27
This seems to be less of an issue if a league has a so-called "targeted position" rules. Our league's rule reads: "At the draft, teams can draft or place players at a new targeted position if there is significant evidence that they will be playing a new position as a starter."

Such a rule now adds even another layer of value with Ohtani because, whatever else is, he is clearly "targeted" for a spot in the Angels rotation (six-man or otherwise).

Absent such a rule, I think your argument is technically correct. But I also think that leagues shouldn't be slaves to rigid adherence to rules (at least in the off-season) and should feel free to debate and hopefully come to a consensus as to what makes the most sense, which in this case to me seems to mean treating Ohtani as a pitcher (at least), even if it is technically an exception to the rule (which I suspect will be a one-off, at least for a while).
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0 #5 Todd Zola 2018-01-12 14:22
Quoting John V:
Second, what about people who stream lineups daily. I don't play that variation but I have NEVER seen a league that has position eligibility requirements for pitchers. Even if you've never played a day in the majors, your provider says you're a pitcher? You're a pitcher! WHY can't I use him to pitch Tuesday and hit Wednesday? Seems once again the answer lies with the providers - they are not set up to handle it so the easier out for them is to limit him - one way or another. yet it seems the line of demarcation has already been crossed with keeping pitcher's offensive stats. So, why's Ohtani so special. Hell, let someone just figure out what spelling of his last name we're using!

And ...NO! The defense is WRONG!


FWIW - many leagues designate SP and RP so in some cases, there's defined eligibility requirements. With respect to the rest of the comments, there are all different issues which have been discussed in plenty of places.
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0 #4 John V 2018-01-12 12:31
As for the Bumgarner example ...why can't he generate hitting stats? He qualifies as much at UTIL as any other player. it's not great strategy for non daily leagues - but, unlike the old position player taking the mound in a blowout deal, that situation is predicated on game situations and that's real time ... in the NL, pitcher is going to bat. Period. So THAT you can plan for
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0 #3 John V 2018-01-12 12:24
Second, what about people who stream lineups daily. I don't play that variation but I have NEVER seen a league that has position eligibility requirements for pitchers. Even if you've never played a day in the majors, your provider says you're a pitcher? You're a pitcher! WHY can't I use him to pitch Tuesday and hit Wednesday? Seems once again the answer lies with the providers - they are not set up to handle it so the easier out for them is to limit him - one way or another. yet it seems the line of demarcation has already been crossed with keeping pitcher's offensive stats. So, why's Ohtani so special. Hell, let someone just figure out what spelling of his last name we're using!

And ...NO! The defense is WRONG!
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0 #2 John V 2018-01-12 12:18
I had posted on the boards about this conundrum when discussing my 2018 roster option. I own him in both AL and NL. In perusing this, I find two things:

One - can your provider handle Ohtani as "either/or"?

Right now, CBS can't and may no be inclined to do so. Which is wrong IMHO, because if he's injured as a pitcher, he may not be an automatic DL ..at least not more than a 10 DL situation - more like the "He'll miss his next start" variety. So - he's still available to bat. Obviously he'll get more ABs than any other pitcher (especially in AL) and CBS DOES capture pitchers hitting stats. So why can't I put him in the rotation one week and move him to UTIL the next? I do it with my offense all the time. 1B to 3B, SS to 2B, etc.? So can (or will) your provider handle two different disciplines for the same player?
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+1 #1 lawr 2018-01-11 22:48
Z-

This is just awesome.How did the obvious get overlooked so obviously?

lawr
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