Despite a less-than-stellar first pitch at Yankees Stadium last Thursday, ESPN analyst Stephen A. Smith’s recent comments on Shohei Ohtani’s contract situation have stirred up quite a storm.
One of Ohtani’s fellow teammates, Jo Adell, stepped forward to defend Ohtani’s performance and his projected $500 million price tag in the upcoming free agency. Adell’s straightforward support has resonated with the baseball community, who have been quick to criticize Smith for his misguided remarks, including his initial pitch blunder.
Smith openly admitted that he doesn’t follow the sport closely and suggested that those within the baseball community should keep quiet. This ignorance isn’t entirely surprising, considering how little ESPN promotes the sport. However, for those grounded in reality and familiar with Ohtani’s remarkable performance over the past three seasons, the idea of a $500 million contract seems entirely reasonable.
Over the last three seasons, Ohtani has consistently delivered exceptional results, despite a lackluster supporting cast in both pitching and hitting. He has amassed a minimum of 9 Wins Above Replacement (WAR), a feat not witnessed since the peak of Barry Bonds’ dominance at the turn of the millennium. If not for Aaron Judge’s impressive 62 home runs in the previous season, Ohtani might have secured three consecutive MVP awards, a feat not seen since Bonds himself.
It’s highly doubtful that Ohtani is paying much attention to criticism from individuals seeking headlines and engagement. Instead, the Japanese superstar is focused on securing the most significant contract in MLB history.
Even though an elbow issue may sideline him from pitching in 2024, any sensible team would be wise to meet Ohtani’s demands. His potential contributions to any team are undeniable, making a $500 million contract seem like a sound investment.