Counting on Yu
Fantasy Baseball Projections for Yu Darvish
UNCLE CHARLIE: Yu Darvish threw the Rangers their first curve ball when he arrived at the Dallas airport wearing a t-shirt with a marijuana leaf on it. Turns out it was confirmed to be a Japanese maple leaf.
Darvish, Texas Ranger
Just how good is Yu Darvish?
The Texas Rangers are betting that he is very, very good. That’s why they invested $112 million in Darvish over the next six years. That’s 6 years at $60 million plus a $51.7 million posting fee paid to Darvish’s Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters club in Japan. The actual number of the posting fee was $51,703,411. The 34 was Ryan’s jersey number. The 11 was Darvish’s number. The Rangers were hoping for a little luck with their bid.
The combined $111.7 million trumps the $103 million that the Red Sox forked over in 2006 to acquire Daisuke Matsuzaka. Matsuzaka received $52 million over six years plus the Sox paid $51.1 million for Dice-K’s rights.
Darvish was making $6.4 million in Japan and was the highest paid player in the league. Not surprising for a two time MVP. His Japanese manager thinks Texas got a bargain. “He is a pitcher who deserves more. As a person who has been following the majors closely, I want to say he is better than that,” said Hideki Kuriyama, the Sapporo-based Nippon Ham Fighters manager
Rolling the Dice
Boston would probably prefer to have its money back on Dice-K. The Red Sox won the 2007 World Series as Matsuzaka went 15-12 with a 4.40 earned run average — followed by an 18-3, 2.90 ERA season. But the right-hander is just 16-15, 5.03 since his best season and he will miss much of the upcoming final season of his contract recovering from elbow surgery. Matsuzaka was 3-3, 5.30 last year.
COUNTING ON YU: Yu Darvish was the MVP of the World Baseball Classic.
Darvish is a big guy. He’s 6′ 5″ and 220 pounds compared to Dice-K’s 6′ 0″ and 185 pounds. At 6′ 5″, Darvish actually appears lanky at 220 pounds. He can dine on American cheeseburgers and put on 25 pounds and still be at a healthy weight. Moreover, Darvish’s freakishly large hands should be able to offset the differences in the American baseball which has less tack and lower seams than the Japanese ball.
The Japanese sensation has a fastball that averages between 92 and 95 mph, a plus slider/slurve and five other, handy secondary pitches: two-seamer, cutter, curveball, splitter, changeup. In all, Darvish has been known to throw 9 different pitches, but it’s unlikely that Nolan Ryan will want him throwing that many different pitches.
Both Darvish and Dice-K have one thing in common–they both have wives that were members of our Baseball’s Hottest Wives. In fact, Darvish’s now ex-wife Saeko Darvish was our 2010 winner of Baseball’s Hottest Wives.
Let’s take a look at the stats of Darvish and Matsuzaka prior to their start in MLB:
Darvish: 76-28, 1.72 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 9.5 K/9, 4.9 K/BB
Matsuzaka: 93-45, 2.95 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 8.7 K/9, 2.96 K/BB
Clearly, Darvish’s numbers in the Japanese League are far superior to Dice-K’s to the tune of 1.23 ERA. Kind of adds some credibility to the notion that Darvish is a comparative bargain.
Moreover, Darvish is coming off the best of his seven seasons as a professional in Japan — 18-6, 1.44 — with the victories and ERA career highs, as were his 232 innings. He struck out 276 and walked 36. Those are some impressive numbers; I don’t care what league your playing in.
But, perhaps the biggest thing that the newly divorced Darvish needs to do is adjust to American ways, both personally and to facing the best hitters in the world. How will he fare pitching on those 100 degree days in Texas? Also, ballparks in Japan are a bit larger overall and the hitters are smaller in general. But, the biggest difference between pitching in Japan and in the USA is that pitchers in Japan pitch every 7 days, not every 5 days.
It is for that reason that USA Today’s Steve Gardner classifies Darvish as a high-risk, high-reward fantasy baseball selection.
“Darvish is an incredibly high risk-reward pick in drafts this year because no one knows how he will respond to pitching in the majors,” said Gardner. “Some fantasy owners will embrace the risk — and some will prefer to play it safe. Most likely, I’ll end up taking the safer course. Pitchers are creatures of habit and making the switch from pitching every seventh day to pitching every fifth can be a major disruption.”
So, where should Darvish go in your fantasy baseball draft? Mike Siano of MLB.com thinks he’s the 25th best pitcher in MLB. Sports Illustrated puts him a little higher at # 22. Tristan Cockroft of ESPN has him at # 30 just behind another high risk pick, Stephen Strasburg.
I (BallparkBob) am more aggressive than the other fantasy baseball experts. Why? Because, I’ve watched the Yu Darvish videos on YouTube…over and over. His stuff is simply nasty. I have Yu Darvish at # 15 in the 2012 fantasy baseball draft just behind the man he replaced C.J. Wilson and Ian Kennedy. I’d rather have Darvish than Adam Wainwright or Zack Greinke.
Watch his videos. He’s nasty.