Los Angeles Angels pitcher and slugger Shohei Ohtani announced his intention to play for Team Japan in the World Baseball Classic.
Shohei Ohtani had yet another incredible season with the Los Angeles Angels. Even though the team finished below .500 and 13 games out of a postseason spot, Ohtani shined both in the batter’s box and on the pitcher’s mound. That is a reason why he was a finalist for the AL MVP award, where he faced off against New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge.
Hours before the announcement of the 2022 AL MVP, Ohtani took to Instagram to make an announcement, which is that he intends to play for Team Japan in the 2023 World Baseball Classic this upcoming March.
Shohei Ohtani announces intent to play for Team Japan in World Baseball Classic
"“Thank you to all the fans that supported me this year,” wrote Ohtani. “I appreciate it and am excited for what’s to come next.“Also, I have officially informed Team Japan manager Mr. Kuriyama that I would like to participate in next year’s WBC.“Looking forward for the opportunity to face the best players around the world and be able to play in front of the Japanese fans for the first time in over 5 years!!”"
Japan will be playing in Pool B in the World Baseball Classic in Tokyo from March 9-13, alongside Korea, Australia, China, and Czech Republic. The winner and runner-up will reach the second round alongside the Pool A winner and runner-up. The Pool A winner will face the Pool B runner up, while the Pool B winner faces the Pool A runner-up. Whoever is victorious in their respective games will advance to the semifinals.
Team Japan will be looking to win their third World Baseball Classic title after winning the first two events in 2006 and 2009.
As a batter, Ohtani recorded a .273 batting average, a .356 on-base percentage, a .519 slugging percentage, 34 home runs, 95 RBI, and 160 hits in 157 games. As a pitcher, Ohtani posted a 2.33 ERA, a 1.012 WHIP, a 15-9 win-loss record, 219 strikeouts and 44 walks over 166.0 innings. Ohtani led the league with an 11.9 strikeouts per nine innings ratio.
Ohtani finished in second place in AL MVP voting behind Judge, receiving two first-place votes and 28 second-place votes for a total of 280 points.
Japan seeks their third WBC title, and Ohtani wants to be a part of the team.