Sho-Time: The Inside Story of Shohei Ohtani and the Greatest Baseball Season Ever Played

Available now! Order now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound and Bookshop.

Shohei Ohtani came to the Major Leagues as “The Babe Ruth of Japan,” and in his fourth season he amazed the baseball world with his historic performance, excelling as a pitcher and hitter.

Ohtani was the first player ever selected to the All-Star team as a pitcher and a hitter. He won the Major League Baseball Players’ Association’s Player of the Year Award. He was the unanimous winner of the American League MVP.

It was, by many measures, just what the title describes: the greatest baseball season ever played.

I have covered the Angels since 2013, so I had a front-row seat for all of Ohtani’s career with the Angels, from his eye-opening start in the majors in 2018 through the disappointments of 2019 and 2020 to his dramatic breakthrough in 2021.

I hope to take readers on the rollercoaster and explain not just what he did in 2021, but how he did it. (日本語で本を読むこともできます)

Along the way, we’ll also look back at Babe Ruth, some of the great two-way players in the Negro Leagues and we’ll look ahead to the future, and ask whether Ohtani can open the door for other two-way players in the Majors.

What they are saying about Sho-Time:

Shohei Ohtani was the biggest story of the 2021 season, and perhaps any season. In “Sho-Time,” Jeff Fletcher masterfully chronicles not only what Ohtani accomplished in ‘21, but also provides the full context to his achievements. From Ohtani’s origin story in Japan to his recruitment by the Angels, his injury-marred 2019 and ‘20 seasons to his place in history next to Babe Ruth, Fletcher’s book is the definitive look at Ohtani’s two-way majesty.

Ken Rosenthal, The Athletic

Shohei Ohtani is a singular phenomenon in baseball, and there’s nobody better to tell his story than Jeff Fletcher. “Sho-Time” is the essential portrait of baseball’s most captivating player, chronicling Ohtanti’s rise from child prodigy in the snowy Iwate Prefecture to two-way MVP sensation under the bright lights of Major League Baseball. Fletcher goes beyond the carefully scripted press conferences, revealing in vivid detail the challenges and triumphs of a baseball journey like no other.

Tyler Kepner, New York Times

I thought I knew everything about Shohei Ohtani because I had seen all of his games and interviewed him for the first time in Tempe in 2018, but I didn’t quite know the extent of everything he did to redesign himself on the physical and mental side until after I read “Sho-Time,” by Jeff Fletcher. I really appreciated learning about Ohtani’s dedication to be the best, starting from his days in Japan. I realized how much it took for him to get to this point, to have the best year in baseball history.

Mark Gubicza, Angels television analyst

OK, I’ll admit it. I’m obsessed with Shohei Ohtani. I missed out on watching that Babe Ruth guy, but I feel lucky to have watched this guy. I even thought I knew a lot about him until I opened my copy of Jeff Fletcher’s brilliant new book. “Sho-Time” taught me so much I didn’t know about the most unique baseball player of our lifetimes. From the moment I read that phrase, “10-tool player,” I was hooked!

Jayson Stark, The Athletic

Historians will be talking about Shohei Ohtani’s 2021 season for decades, and thankfully the baseball gods arranged for Jeff Fletcher to be there to cover baseball’s best two-way player ever in the midst of a pandemic, to bear witness and mine details and write with grace about the sport’s most incredible individual performance.

Buster Olney, ESPN

As someone who has been there since the day Shohei arrived, Jeff is more qualified than anyone to document his impact on Major League Baseball. Jeff’s endless hours of observation and interviews with and about the most impactful player in generations come together in an insightful and entertaining read.

Matt Vasgersian, Angels television, MLB Network

Available July 2022. Pre-order it now from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indiebound, or Target.

I chatted with Carolyn Manno of Sportsnaut about Shohei Ohtani and the book in June.

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