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Shohei Ohtani, fantasy baseball's Schrödinger's bat

Feeling down about Shohei Ohtani? That may well depend if his pitching stats count for your fantasy team, or if you're only getting credit for the hitting half of his performance. Getty Images

Shohei Ohtani the hitter smacked a ninth-inning home run on Thursday night and two innings prior stole his first base of the season, which is a nice little feat we like to call the "combo meal" on our Fantasy Focus Baseball podcast. Ohtani the hitter has a few home runs and seven runs batted in but remains off to a rather slow start at the plate, with just a .174 batting average and nary a walk versus seven strikeouts. Still, he boasts a career .877 OPS and only four Angels have strode to the plate more than he has -- a good sign.

Of course, Ohtani the hitter produces only half of his overall value for fantasy managers, and one could argue it is not even actually close to half. We need him to pitch well. Everyone in baseball seems to hit. Aces are fewer and farther between, and Ohtani the pitcher, who entered his first outing with a career 3.31 ERA, was anything but an ace in his 2020 debut last Sunday afternoon. He retired as many Athletics hitters that day as you and I. It was 30 rough pitches with far reduced velocity and command, three hits, three walks, five earned runs, and much angst.