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Angels: Shohei Ohtani’s Humble Response to Being Compared to Other Japanese Baseball Greats

Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani doesn't think he's "among" other Japanese stars like Ichiro, Hideki Matsui, and Hideo Nomo. He might not know how right he is.

One of the greatest things about Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani is that it's hard to pick the greatest thing about him. He's one of the best hitters in baseball and one of the best pitchers in baseball, his smile lights up a room, and he's remarkably humble. He's like the quadruple threat of likable baseball players.

So it's no surprise that when he's compared to other great Japanese ballplayers like Ichiro, Hideki Matsui, and Hideo Nomo, he's hesitant to embrace those comparisons. Here's how he responded to those comparisons on Ben Verlander's FOX special, "Searching for Shohei":

"Well, they are people who I really respect, and people whom I look up to as a player. I watched them on TV when I was little, wanting to become a player like them. They are players whom I emulate and still aim to become. So honestly, it feels weird to hear that I’m being considered among them. I still don’t feel I’m among them yet."

Ohtani has 24.8 career WAR already between his hitting and his pitching. Matsui finished his career with 21.2 WAR, Nomo at 21.8. Ichiro, of course, is a legitimate Hall of Famer who finished his career with 60 WAR, so that one makes sense.

Nomo still has more pitching value than Ohtani, and Matsui has more hitting value. But when it comes to overall greatness, value, and star power, Ohtani is correct that they're not on the same level, but he probably has it backwards on who shouldn't be compared to whom.