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Back when Shohei Ohtani was set to make his MLB debut back in 2018, there was a lot of talk about what a player with his skill set could mean for the game. It required Fantasy game providers to change how their games worked to account for his ability to play as a hitter and pitcher at the major-league level, while analysts and players tried to figure out just how valuable one player with both skills could be.

The three years since haven't been quite as revolutionary as we had hoped they would be, unfortunately. Ohtani did have a 3.10 ERA in his first nine starts with 61 strikeouts in 49.1 innings, but he had started just 30 of the Angels first 63 games as a hitter before the elbow injury that would ultimately require Tommy John surgery and keep him off the mound for all of 2019. He did hit .286/.351/.532 in 2018 and 2019, but he struggled to a .190/.291/.366 line in 2021 while making just two ugly starts before being shut down with another forearm/elbow injury. 

So far, at least, it looks like much ado about nothing with Ohtani, who sports an Average Draft Position of 183.0 per's consensus. But he's reminding us this spring of why we were so excited in the first place. Wednesday, he absolutely crushed a long home run over the batter's eye in center field: 

But the really exciting stuff came Friday when Ohtani made his first start of the spring. Though there were concerns after Ohtani's velocity was way down in an early spring bullpen session, he looked pretty great against Oakland, striking out five in 1.2 innings of work. He also walked two and allowed a run on three hits, but we know better than to worry too much about results in spring training. The story here is that Ohtani's velocity was back to where we want to see it and he was throwing his full complement of breaking pitches for swinging strikes. Let's take a look at one in particular:

Before the injury, Ohtani's splitter was his best pitch -- he ended 55 at-bats with it, and 35 of those were strikeouts. Opposing hitters missed 56.4% of the time they swung against it, and just one of the 20 balls in play against it went for extra bases. It was a ludicrous pitch, one of the best in baseball, and it looked great Friday. 

Oh, and he hit 100 mph with his fastball. Last season, he maxed out at 97 in his two starts. This was, all in all, an incredibly encouraging start to Ohtani's comeback, even as he struggled with his command a bit. 

Of course, it doesn't change anything about Ohtani, fundamentally, and it doesn't even come close to answering all of the questions we have about Ohtani heading into the season. It's just one outing, one in which he didn't finish his second inning, no less. You shouldn't go moving Ohtani way up your rankings just because of this. He's still pitching in a six-man rotation, so two-start weeks will be few and far between, limiting how much impact he can make as a pitcher. Plus, we're still not sure how the Angels plan to use him as a hitter -- in 2018, they gave him the day before and after he pitched to hit, which left him playing four games a week at the most. If that is still the case, he's probably going to be a pretty fringe-y option in leagues where you have to choose whether to use him as a hitter or a pitcher each week. 

But, the upside here is undeniable. As a pitcher, Ohtani probably has a lower innings ceiling than even guys like Sixto Sanchez or Ian Anderson who we expected to be limited in terms of volume, but he might be as good or better than either, too, as a pitcher. Let's say the best-case scenario hits and he gives you 25 starts and 130 innings with a 3.30 ERA and 150 strikeouts. That's going to be pretty valuable in a season where everyone's innings are likely to be low. And he could do that while hitting 20 homers and stealing 10 bases with a .280 average -- that basically what he averaged as a hitter his first two seasons. 

The counting stats on either side are going to be too limited to make Ohtani a Fantasy superstar in weekly lineup leagues where you have to pick one side or the other. However, there would still be value in having a guy like that around, obviously -- the pitching part still seems like it would be most impactful in this scenario. 

Of course, those of you who play in daily lineup leagues would have the ultimate cheat code. Ohtani represents arguably the two most coveted assets in Fantasy in 2021: A potential ace pitcher and a potential power-speed option who doesn't hurt you in batting average. It could be like getting Dinelson Lamet (Current ADP: 89.0) and the power and speed numbers of a Tommy Pham (134.0) or Wil Myers (131.4). That's a best-case scenario, of course, but in Ohtani's case, it's not theoretical; we've seen him do it at various points. 

It's a lot to ask, and the chances of everything going right for any given player are always pretty low. And Ohtani's price is only going to go up from here after people finally got to see him pitch. Even if he makes it through the spring without issue, I wouldn't push him into the top 100 unless I'm in a daily league, and I'd prefer to get him around 150 than earlier. But people are going to get excited about the possibility of Ohtani finally put it all together and breaking baseball. How could you not be rooting for that?