By Seiki "Stan" Hirota
Originally published April 10, 2018
It’s really too early to judge how Shohei Ohtani will do in the Major League Baseball, but the few games that he has played this season seem to have fascinated a lot of baseball fans in the US.
In term of physical features, Ohtani is probably 8 inches taller than the average professional baseball players in Japan. Being taller and more away from the ground meant that Otani had to work harder than anyone else on the coordination and control of his body. He has a disciplined approach to keeping his body extremely flexible, especially in his shoulders joints, elbow joints, wrist, fingers and hip joints. In terms of hip joints, it might match how Ichiro keeps his body extremely flexible. This flexibility gives Ohtani an advantage in terms of spring in his body.
But what I personally think that fuels Ohtani’s strength is more about his mindset. One thing that is unique about Ohtani is that he is a baseball player that can think on his own, he is extremely open-minded in trying new things, continue trial and error, willing to take the risks to make quick adjustments to be continuously better. Ohtani is someone who has a strong “Growth Mind”.
There was a season in Japan, when he wanted to find out how his game would change if he gained more weight. He started eating more, started weight training and increased his weight by 18 lbs to 220 lbs in a short period of time. As a general statement, it is usually not recommended for professional athletes to gain or lose weight in a short period of time, because that will completely change the balance of your body.
For Ohtani, he was just curious to try it out, because he thought that by gaining weight, he could potentially increase the power of his ball. From what I heard, Ohtani just said, “I wonder what would happen to the power of my ball if I increased my weight by 18 to 20 lbs. Let’s just try it once and see how it goes”. There are always risks in changing things around in anything you do. Ohtani could probably do well compared to others based on what he has going on, but there is no “status quo” as a word in his dictionary.
Ohtani has a big dream from when he was young, of being one of the best baseball player in history, and for him, curiosity always exceeds risks. He is constantly trying anything that could potentially improve his game. He has the courage to take the risk to change, because based on what he is striving for, no one in the past has experienced what he needs to achieve. In addition to all these, we must understand that being a batter and a pitcher, only gives Ohtani half the time to train compared to other players, so he knows that speed and efficiency is crucial for him to succeed.
There was a game in Japan when he gave 4 point lead to the opponent in the 2nd inning. When this happened, he quickly assessed the issue, addressed it on the spot, and made the necessary changes to his pitching style during a single game, and with the support of his fellow players, won the game.
“Having Strong Curiosity”, “Looking at Oneself in an Objective Manner”, Taking Risks to Problem Solve”, “Learning from Failures”, “Taking Quick Action for Change”, “Being Never Satisfied”, “Putting in Unprecedented Efforts” are probably the key qualities that makes Ohtani strong overall as a person. I am so happy to have the opportunity to observe what he will achieve in the Major League Baseball and beyond, and learn from him as a business professional.