Shohei Ohtani has given the fantasy baseball world a challenge, but one league host site has nailed how to handle him.
When Shohei Ohtani signed with the Los Angeles Angels, he officially brought his two-way talent over from Japan. He can pitch and hit, and will probably do both, which presents a conundrum for fantasy baseball league hosts and owners this year.
One notable fantasy league host, Yahoo!, has decided to treat Ohtani as separate players, a hitter and a pitcher. So in theory, two owners in a league could own a piece of his overall statistics, and deploy Ohtani only at the position they draft or subsequently acquire him to assume. If you want all of Ohtani’s numbers right off the bat, two draft picks will be required.
But CBS Sports has a better system. According to For The Win:
When the site opens for the 2018 season later this month, Ohtani will count as one player that can be toggled between pitcher and hitter, although that means if you start him at one position, you won’t be able to accrue stats from the other roster spot (if he’s your pitcher one night, you won’t earn anything hitting-wise and vice versa). CBS’s platform also allows commissioners to go in and adjust stats after the fact, so if there’s a league that wants Ohtani to gather both hitting and pitching stats in games he does double duty, that’s possible.
So if Ohtani started a game an owner can have him in a pitching spot that day, then, assuming the ability to change lineups daily, he could be put into an outfield or utility spot the next day. There is an open end, even on CBS Sports’ platform, with the ability for commissioners to retroactively adjust stats and allow what would be double-dipping if Ohtani pitched and hit during the same game.
ESPN seemed to be on the same track as CBS in early December, treating Ohtani as one player with the flexibility to be used as a hitter or a pitcher. Senior director of product management Chris Jason had the following to say before Ohtani signed:
We know there is a lot of excitement about Ohtani within our fantasy community, and we are working toward a solution for the 2018 baseball season. There are many factors that go into determining how best to reconcile his unique talent within the game — his positional eligibility, whether he plays for an AL or NL team, the fantasy league scoring system being used (rotisserie vs. points vs. stat categories), and whether a user is in a daily or weekly locking league, to name a few.
It will be interesting to see how Ohtani’s average draft position takes shape in fantasy drafts. Multi-position eligibility can be a differentiating factor, but Ohtani will be unique as a likely two-way player.