Ohtani is the greatest and most famous baseball player in the world, and his value goes way beyond what he does on the field for his new team. What's most important, though, is what he does on the field. Ohtani will not pitch in 2024 as he recovers from a procedure to address a UCL tear in his throwing elbow. He will, however, be the Dodgers' full-time designated hitter, and he's evolved into one of the best pure hitters in all of baseball.
Last season, Ohtani slashed .304/.412/.654 with an AL-leading 44 home runs in 135 games. As well, he lead the majors in slugging, OPS, and OPS+, and he paced the AL in OBP and total bases. Over those 135 games and 599 plate appearances, he massed a WAR of 6.0 on offense. He backed up all of that elite production with best-in-class batted-ball metrics, and at age-29 he figures to sustain that plate dominance for some time.
That brings us to what he means to the already imposing Dodgers. The Dodgers last season got strong production from the DH spot, thanks chiefly to outgoing free agent J.D. Martinez. In all, Dodger DHs combined to hit .268/.332/.526. That brings us to these projected Ohtani boosts that the Dodgers figure to enjoy in 2024 via SportsLine:
- Ohtani adds 2.8 wins to the Dodgers' early projected 2024 win total, from 98.8 to 101.6.
- Ohtani improves their odds of winning what should be a reasonably tough NL West from 79% to 87.2%.
- Ohtani improves the Dodgers' chances of making the postseason in 2024 from 97.3% to 99.1%.
- Ohtani improves their chances of winning the pennant next season from 29.1% to 32.4%.
- Finally, he bumps up the Dodgers' chances of winning the 2024 World Series from 15.9% to 19.3%.
Given the existing high baseline -- the Dodgers have racked up 317 wins over the last three regular seasons -- almost all of those are reasonable. The win improvement, however, is probably too conservative. While the Dodgers as noted had good production from DH last year, it's still well shy of what Ohtani figures to give them at the plate in 2024, especially once you consider he won't be fatigued by making 20 to 25 starts on the mound. Throw in the fact that he adds significant value on the bases relative to DH standards, and a five-win bump, provided he stays healthy, is a reasonable expectation.
Of course, when he does return to the mound, the Dodgers will enjoy an even bigger boost, and that's why they gave him those $700 million dollars. Until then, Ohtani will "merely" turn one of the best offenses in baseball into the best offense in baseball.