Los Angeles Angels outfielder and pitcher Shohei Ohtani had a very good year. My fantasy team, the Franchy Flakes, did not. A big reason why my team (named after a Red Sox player and a breakfast cereal, per my annual theme) struggled was because Ohtani was not a part of the clubhouse.
What is even more unfortunate for me is that he could have been.
My fantasy league is a keeper league, which means we have an opportunity to retain up to six players we had from the previous season. Due to the shortened 2020 season, we took a year off from the keeper structure. So, before the 2021 season we were keeping players where we drafted them in 2019.
That year I had the foresight to draft Ohtani in the 19th round. He was only available this late because he’d had Tommy John surgery in September 2018 and his performance/availability as a hitter in 2019 was in question. It’s also important to note Ohtani’s stats are split in our league, so I had drafted him as a hitter and would not get any of his pitching stats.
He had a solid season, hitting 18 home runs and stealing 12 bases with a .286/.343/.505 slash line. Then the 2020 season happened, and he hit .190 in 44 games with a .657 OPS. Despite his rough 2020, Ohtani still had a .843 OPS for his career and was averaging 30 home runs and 19 steals per 162 games.
Fast forward to February 2021 when I had a decision to make. And I made the wrong one.
Here are the six players I kept instead of Ohtani and how their 2021 season went:
Marcel Ozuna – Fourth Round
- Why I kept him instead of Ohtani – Ozuna led the league in home runs, total bases and RBI in the shortened 2020 season.
- How his 2021 season went – Ozuna had a .645 OPS through May 25th, then a few days later he was arrested on assault charges and did not play another game this season.
Trent Grisham – Twelfth Round
- Why I kept him instead of Ohtani – Grisham hit 10 home runs and stole 10 bases in only 59 games during the 2020 season. At 24, he looked poised to only get better.
- How his 2021 season went – Grisham missed multiple weeks in May/June and finished the season with 15 home runs and 13 steals, despite playing nearly 100 more games than in 2020.
Fernando Tatis, Jr. – Fifteenth Round
- Why I kept him instead of Ohtani – He’s (arguably) the best player in fantasy. This was a no-brainer.
- How his 2021 season went – There were two separate IL stints for a shoulder injury, but Tatis still hit 42 home runs, stole 25 bases, had a .975 OPS and came in third in NL MVP voting.
Trevor Bauer – Eighteenth Round
- Why I kept him instead of Ohtani – Bauer won the 2020 Cy Young and had struck out 574 batters over his last 461 innings from 2018-2020. He had also just signed with the Dodgers which put him on a team likely to win 100 games or more.
- How his 2021 season went – Bauer won eight of his first 17 starts and struck out 137 in 107+ innings. On June 30, Bauer began being under investigation for an alleged assault and did not pitch again this season.
Eugenio Suarez – Twenty-first Round
- Why I kept him instead of Ohtani – Suarez hit 49 home runs in 2019, and from 2018-2020 he hit 98 home runs with a .892 OPS.
- How his 2021 season went – Suarez hit under .200 in 145 games and his season-long stat line would have looked even worse without a September/October that saw him hit 8 home runs with a 1.268 OPS in 25 games.
Jeff McNeil – Twenty-sixth Round
- Why I kept him instead of Ohtani – In 2019, McNeil hit 23 home runs with a .916 OPS, and had a .836 OPS in 52 games in 2020. He also did this at second base which is a position with more scarcity than OF. This is also the last round of the draft.
- How his 2021 season went – McNeil’s OPS was under .700 for nearly the whole season and he only hit 7 home runs.
And how did Ohtani (the hitter) do in the stats we use?
- 103 runs (tied for 11th in MLB)
- 46 home runs (3rd in MLB)
- 100 runs batted in (tied for 18th in MLB)
- 26 steals (8th in MLB)
- .372 on-base percentage (15th in MLB)
- .592 slugging percentage (4th in MLB)
Oh boy, it would have been nice to have Ohtani on the roster. Not that it would have mattered for my team, but Ohtani also started 23 games for the Angels, going 9-2 with an ERA+ of 141 and striking out 156 in 130+ innings.
Ohtani was incredible in 2021 and delivered one of the all-time best MVP seasons in MLB.
The craziest part of this story? Ohtani (the hitter) was not even drafted in my league but was added from the waiver wire in March after another team lost Eloy Jimenez to a ruptured pectoral tendon.
Congratulations to Shohei Ohtani on a fantastic year. And for me? Better luck next time buddy.
- / 1 year ago
To me, Rachel Nichols is the personification of posting a black square on Instagram.