Few players have amassed such accolades over their career, and there is no question that Narushi ‘Turbo’ Ohata will one day have his iconic #34 retired by some of his former teams – of which there are many – and his visage will grace a bronze plaque in the hallowed Hall of Fame.
But the legendary 39-year-old outfielder, for now, wants to keep playing baseball, and is patiently awaiting the phone call from a team, any team, who will give him just one more chance to swing the lumber in 2018.
Working against the four-time playoff MVP, and triple Bull Cup champion, is his propensity for injuries now plaguing him through the advanced years of his 21 season career. But this may make him an attractive bargain for an already-good team looking for postseason success in 2018.
At his prime, the Ohio Oxen had him on the payroll for $24.8 million a year, from 2011 to 2013. He signed with the Hamilton Crusaders immediately afterwards, for nearly as much. His Ohio years were phenomenal: in eight seasons, his slash line was .337/.405/.675, he hit 204 homers there, drove in 535 runs, and scored 453 runs. He still holds the team records for batting average, OBP ,slugging, career WAR, runs, hits, double, home runs and RBIs.
In his most recent two seasons with the Brawlers, he has still shown flashes of his former skills, hitting .290 in 2016, and knocking in 15 homers and driving in 51 runs, good enough to win the Lake League Gold Crown at LF – his eighth position offensive award.
Though injured for much of 2017, he was healthy in the postseason, where he has historically excelled, and he did not disappoint as Boston attempted, though unsuccessfully, to handle Montreal. He hit .273 in the Elimination Round series against the Metros, with two of his three hits going for doubles, and surprisingly was one of the best hitters among what turned out to be a completely anemic Boston lineup in that series.
For 2018, Turbo is looking for a team willing to pay just north of $3 million, and is rumored to have received at least one offer from an AEL team. If he took the offer, it would be his first time playing in the other league.
Ohata is a huge gamble, and would not be for the faint of heart, or a team on a shoe-string budget. He’s purely a clutch man who comes up with big things that can help an already great team at the right times, and given his age, would need to plug into a lineup that has most of its pieces and is headed for the playoffs in 2018.