Updated: Oct 18, 2021
When most people in Japan think of the name Yudai Ohno, they probably think that you are referring to the Japanese musical artist. However, this year, another person became a star in Japan with that same name. There is little doubt around the NPR that Yudai Ohno was the best pitcher in the league this year. However, it is odd that he really is not that popular around the country. With a simple Twitter search, you would expect to find videos of him embarrassing hitters, but that is not the case. This is a true oddity considering the video game numbers that he put up during the 2020 campaign.
Yudai Ohno has always put up great numbers, but 2020 was different, it was legendary. Ohno started 18 games and he finished 10 of them. Yes, that is correct he threw 10 complete games. With that stat alone you can probably start to imagine the production and efficiency he had through the season. He put up a league-leading 1.79 ERA and he struck out 137 while walking only 20 batters. All of this making up a WHIP of .826. He also gave up less than a home run per 9 innings. He truly was dominant, to say the least.
Chunichi Dragon fans are hoping that this can continue into next season, but some people are saying that this was a fluke season for him. Yudai has always been a great pitcher and there were rumors about him coming to the States in 2017, but that never happened. Without the access to Rapsodo, it is hard to tell exactly what changed, but it is obvious that something did with his quick improvement in production.
With a quick examination of the chart below, you can easily see some important things and form your own opinions on his future production.
1. Complete game totals are way up.
2. He gave up too many home runs in a shortened season.
3. He dramatically cut down walk totals.
4. Strikeouts would match and probably beat his 2019 and 2015 totals.
It is my prediction that his 2021 numbers will be a little below what they were during the 2020 campaign for a couple of reasons. One reason that gives me this impression are his home run totals; they were higher than average. This most probably means that hitters were finding barrels. However, these were very occasional barrels considering his ERA. His 2021 season will be interesting to watch because of the decrease in his walk totals. For many pitchers, a decrease in that category is a sign of good things to come, but considering everything going on here it is hard to see him beating his 2020 ERA.
Yudai Ohno is a very interesting pitcher who has similarities to Johnny Cueto. He does a great job of throwing off the hitters' timing while mixing up his delivery every pitch. This is especially hard to do when he can top out 95 mph. During the 2021 season, it will be fun to watch Yudai Ohno try to match what he was able to accomplish in 2020. Through his powerful fastball and pinpoint accuracy, he will most likely continue his incredible dominance for the next few years to come.
This piece was written by Cade Carlson, a common contributor for Globally Ballin with an emphasis on international baseball.