“When I wake up, I have 60,000 followers → 1.03 million”…Ohtani effect revealed by Noobah, “WBC’s winning member.”

St. Louis outfielder Lars Nootba (27), who contributed to the Japanese national team’s victory at the World Baseball Classic in 2023, revealed an anecdote that he became a popular star on social media (social network service) thanks to Shohei Ohtani.

Japanese media outlet “Nikkan Sports” reported on the 15th (Korea time) that “Nutba, who contributed to the Japanese national team’s WBC victory, participated in the fan festival, the club’s annual event, and burst into laughter after being asked by children’s fans.” The event in which Nootba participated was “Cardinal’s Care Winter Warm-up,” a kind of fan festival-style event that raises funds from Cardinals Care, a charity in St. Louis, and provides a place for players and fans to meet.

According to Nikkan Sports, Nutba burst into laughter when asked by a child fan why his Instagram followers have increased so much. “Just playing for the Japanese national team with Otani has increased (followers).” The number of followers on Instagram increased from 60,000 before the WBC event to 1.03 million now. 토토사이트 추천

Ohtani, who influenced Nootba’s rise in popularity, also saw a significant increase in the number of Instagram followers before and after the WBC competition. Ohtani, who had about 2 million followers before the competition, had a strong performance as a pitcher and batter, and after catching both WBC wins, MVP, and two rabbits, the number of followers exceeded 5 million.

According to the U.S. sports business-related media “Sportico,” Ohtani had 5.33 million Instagram followers last year (1.58 million → 6.91 million), which was the first among sports stars around the world. Ohtani’s Instagram followers, which were around 6 million when he signed a contract with the LA Dodgers in December last year, have recently surpassed 7 million.

Nootba, who joined St. Louis with the 243rd pick in the eighth round of the 2018 MLB Rookie Draft, debuted in the big league in 2021 and played in 58 games (0.239 5 home runs and 15 RBIs) showing his potential. Then, in 2022, when he was in his first full-time season, Nootba, who showed a step up with a batting average of 0.228 with 14 home runs and 40 RBIs with a 0.788, was asked by his mother’s country, Japan, to participate in the national team ahead of the 2023 WBC tournament.

It was the first time for a Japanese-born major leaguer to join the Japanese national team at the World Baseball Organization (WBC) tournament, which was launched in 2006. Back then, there was opposition against Nootba, which was only in its second year in the big league and did not record a remarkable performance. However, Hideki Kuriyama, the coach of the Japanese national baseball team, pushed ahead with the selection, judging that Nootba’s slugging capability would help the team.

His participation in the WBC was a turning point in his life. He played in seven games and contributed to Japan’s victory by posting a batting average of 0.269 (7 hits in 26 times at bat), four RBIs and two steals. His slugging capability did not explode, but he also played a role as a mood maker for his team by displaying stellar defense, hustle play, and spreading the “Pepper Ceremony,” which has become a symbol of the Japanese national team. With experience at the WBC games, he played in 117 games despite three injuries last year, recording a batting average of 0.261 with 14 homers, 46 RBIs and 11 steals, and a 0.785, emerging as a key outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals.

During the WBC tournament, Nutba became close and built a friendship with Ohtani, the de facto leader of the team, who was especially considerate to help him adapt to the Japanese national team. “I should not play for other countries (not Japan) in the next WBC,” Ohtani said, presenting a high-end watch to Nootba right after winning the WBC tournament, and promised to meet again, saying, “I didn’t get my watch, and I was going to do so.”

Even after returning to the U.S., Nutba showed his respect through several interviews, praising Ohtani as the best player not only for his skills but also for his personality.

Meanwhile, Nutba also mentioned Yamamoto Yoshinobu (26), a former teammate of the Japanese national team, at a press conference held at the club’s fan festival. According to “Nikkan Sports,” Nutba said, “It is certain that (Yamamoto) did not go to the team I wanted,” and “I think he would have looked good in the red uniform of St. Louis.”

Yamamoto, who played as the best pitcher in the Japanese Professional Baseball (NPB), drew attention as the pitcher’s biggest fish in the stove league. Although Nootba spent time with Yamamoto, who visited the U.S. in November last year for negotiations with major league clubs, and even recommended going to St. Louis, Yamamoto eventually signed a 12-year, $325 million (W429.2 billion) contract with the Dodgers.

“Still, when I saw Yamamoto, I thought he was cool,” Nutba said. “It was the first time I saw the FA contract process up close. He openly talked to me. Many clubs showed interest and signed contracts worth more than expected. I hope (Yamamoto) will do well in the Major League.”

The St. Louis Cardinals, which includes Ohtani and Yamamoto, will hold its opening four consecutive games on March 29. In an interview with Japanese media NHK, Nootba said, “I’m looking forward to the showdown. I was especially excited when Ohtani signed with the Dodgers,” adding, “It’s sure to be a difficult challenge, but I want to win against my friends if possible.”

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