Thursday, October 13, 2011
Newest Seattle Mariner? Hisashi Iwakuma
For over a year now, it has been rumored that the Rakuten Golden Eagle's pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma is going to sign with the Seattle Mariners. Iwakuma is an innings eater, throwing 48 complete games (6 shutouts) in 226 starts (that is complete games in 21% of his starts). That is a higher percentage than Cliff Lee completed (18.4%, James Shields completed 33% of his starts, but has a much lower rate for his career). In his career in Japan, he has a PE of -.04 and had a PE of -1.09 in 2011. Once going through the Japanese pitching metric (a metric I calculated in the Yu Darvish article, trying to measure how pitchers from Japan did in the Majors), his (using his career numbers) WHIP is 1.29, ERA of 3.86, and just 77 strikeouts a year. This is what he could be expected to do for the Mariners. In Japan, his K/BB ratio is a very solid 3.43, and gave up just .64 HR/9IP. One concern that may be nothing but should be taken seriously (because moving from Japan to America or vise versa can be a culture shock and stressful, remember all the preparation Ichiro put himself through.), is when he changed from Kintetsu to Rakuten. His first year for the new team was a disaster, putting up a 4.99 ERA with a career high 7 wild pitches. It is hard to tell what kind of adjustment the move to Seattle (if it happens) Iwakuma would have to make, and whether he would struggle to adapt. It is also hard to gauge how much he might be worth. My guess would be somewhere between the 5-10 million dollar a year range. I certainly wouldn't pay more for him.