This guy is filthy, but he's no Dice man.
It's feel a little strange to salute a man of half-Iran, half-Japanese descent. Aside from the momentary feeling of tribalism and the nuisance of not being about to draft John Rocker, all systems are go for the latest import from the Far East. The scouts love him, the numbers are superb, but the masses are still baffled by Dice K's gyro-ball. One man's ignorance is a million dollar man's profit. Let's do the impossible; let's project the unknown. Today's forecast: sunny with a chance of 185 Ks.
Every projection starts with Strikeouts. The Strikeout is the best possible outcome for our purposes and Yu Darvish struck out over 10 batters per nine his last season in the land of the rising Fukushima reactor. Granted he was facing players who are worse than Kaz Matsui, his stuff is still better than what Dice-K and Colby Lewis brought back with them. Matsuzaka, used and abused since a star in high school, struck out 8.84 batters per nine during his rookie year. Colby Lewis struck out 8.78 per nine during his first season back from Japan. Because Darvish throws a Sinker and I want to leave some meat on the bone I'm going to use a 8.28 K/9.
Next is the free passes. Darvish made strides in limiting walks last year when he began to attack the plate. Not only will he need to do this again, but he'll have to do so while working with a smaller strike zone (while adjusting to a new country). When he peaked he showed Colby Lewis command (2.91 BB/9 his first year back). When he was nibbling around the plate, the walks were 40% heavy. At such a young age I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and chalk up the improvement to learning, developing and maturing. I'm willing to pay for a 3.05 BB/9.
And finally the batted ball numbers. We're using a 37.9% Fly Ball percentage, a 8.8% HR/FB% and a .285 BABIP. We don't have much information on these statistics so I'm basically assuming his batted ball profile will be slightly skewed toward the Ground Ball side (think 42.1% GB% vs 37.9% FB%). The Rangers rotation allowed a 9.5% HR/FB% and .283 BABIP last season. They boast a solid defense so it is reasonable to expect Darvish to best the league average BABIP (.291 in '11).
All these numbers thrown into the gas powered calculator gives us this line:
200 IP, 184 K, 1.22 WHIP, 3.47 ERA, 15 Wins
Yu Darvish is currently slotted in the 25-30 range of my SP rankings. You have to love his stuff, his size and his demeanor. You also have to love the price tag. He's the 37th SP off the board at MockDraftCentral.com, behind the likes of Jeremy Hellickson and Johnny Cueto. With the need to draft big production bats in the early rounds of drafts, Yu Darvish could be your ticket to mid-to-late round SP stats. The name Dice-K carries a significant amount of stink with it, but don't let bad memories of a two-bit comic and mulleted Asian persuade you from doing Yu (pause).
What do you think? Less strikeouts? Are you crazy and want to wile out with a 8.75-esque K/9? Here you go: 195 k, 1.20 WHIP, 3.38 ERA 15 Wins. Where does Yu sit in your SP rankings? Did you see the movement on that Cutter? Are you mad I didn't use any other ACDC references?
This piece is a part of the series entitled, Starting Pitching Chronicles. Here, Andrew delves into the world of projections for the biggest and most difficult position to forecast: Starting Pitchers. Other entries include: