Friday, September 16, 2011

How Much is Yu Darvish Worth? Comparative Statistics.

It appears that after Rangers' lefty C.J. Wilson, who I have already written about, will be the most sought after starting pitcher in free agency this year. Second place goes to Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, who has all the hype Daisuke Matsuzaka had. Darvish is just 25 years old, and going into this season had a career ERA of 1.81 in Japanball. His WHIP is .909, averages 10 strikeouts per 9 innings, and he is a starter! Its not hard to contend that Japanball is at a lower level of play than the Major Leagues (mainly because the United States is a bigger country, and players from Japan, the Dominican and Venezuela come to play as well), but the question is by how much. So i want to look at a few pitchers that pitched in both Japan and America and see how Darvish compares. First, Dice-K (Matsuzaka). In Japan, Dice-K registered a 2.95 ERA and averaged 169 strikeouts a season (Darvish has averaged around 200), with a WHIP of 1.12. For the Red Sox, his ERA has been 4.18, and he has averaged 108 strikeouts a season (he has missed quite a bit of time with injuries), and a WHIP of 1.40. This is 61 less strikeouts per season, .28 extra in WHIP, and 1.23 extra in ERA. Hiroki Kuroda, the second starter for the LA Dodgers, is an anomaly for sure. His Major League stats are better than his Japan ball stats. In Japan, he had a 3.69 career ERA with 1257 strikeouts, with a WHIP of 1.35 in 10 seasons. In the Majors, his ERA is 3.43 with 488 strikeouts, and a WHIP of 1.19 in 4 seasons. It is hard to determine whether one should dismiss him as an outlier or keep his statistics in the mix as well, but I will keep him in the mix (for no real reason, except to have more pitchers to compare to). Rangers reliever Yoshi Tateyama had an ERA of about 3.79 with 488 strikeouts (41 a year) and a WHIP of .999, and in the Majors he has a 4.71 ERA with 40 strikeouts (in 1 season) and a WHIP of 1.10. Koji Uehara (also currently with the Rangers, was actually a high school teammate of Tateyama's, came to the majors as an Oriole) has very similar statistics in both countries. In Japan, he had a 3.01 ERA with 137.6 strikeouts a year and a WHIP of .992, while he has an ERA of 3.03 with 55 strikeouts a year, with a WHIP of 1.00 in America. There are a couple of other Japanese players that we could look at too, but I want to look at a player that is not Japanese but played in Japan. Colby Lewis is a key starter for the Texas Rangers, but had previously struggled so bad that he went to Japan to see if he could figure it out. And figure it out he did, as he had an ERA of 2.82 and 369 strikeouts in two years (184.5 a year) and a WHIP of 1.00. Since coming back to the states, he has an ERA of 4.00 with 173 strikeouts per year, with a WHIP of 1.21. This means on average, that the Majors add .086 to the WHIP, add .61 to the ERA, and subtract 30 strikeouts from the Japanese numbers. If we do this to Yu Darvish's numbers, he would have an ERA of 2.42, WHIP of .995, and about 192 strikeouts per season. This is really close to Cliff Lee's season (his ERA would be slightly above, his WHIP slightly below, and his strikeout total would be a little lower)! Lee has a WAR of 6.7, and is making about 24 million dollars a year. Comparative statistics across leagues is not a science, but we have enough evidence that shows that Japanese pitchers can come over here and dominate. One has to believe that Darvish is worth/will make at least 20 million dollars a year. Teams that want to bring him in better expect to pay this much.

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