Blog Entry

Darvish much better than past imported pitchers

Posted on: December 19, 2011 4:42 pm
Edited on: December 19, 2011 6:32 pm

By Matt Snyder

With Yu Darvish soon headed to America, the standard generalization from many seems to be that we have to lump him in with the other starting pitchers who have come over from Japan. Hideo Nomo and Daisuke Matsuzaka had good starts but didn't sustain it long-term (though Dice-K still has a chance to change that and Nomo had a very good year for the Dodgers late in his career) while Hideki Irabu and Kei Igawa were unmitigated busts.

As unfair as it is to assume all pitchers coming over from Japan will be a bust based upon four cases -- and it's incredibly unfair -- it's even more unfair to assume everyone coming over is created equally. Look at the position players: Hideki Matsui and Ichiro Suzuki panned out while a decent amount of position players have failed to meet expectations. We need to judge every player on an individual basis.

With that in mind, here's a chart comparing Darvish's Nippon Professional Baseball stats with the four previous big-name starting pitchers to come to Major League Baseball. I used only the pitchers' last five seasons in Japan, as Darvish has only been in the league for five years. Also, I was unable to find hits allowed in every season for all pitchers so unfortunately we had to leave WHIP off the chart. I can tell you with much confidence, however, that Darvish's career 0.89 WHIP would have dwarfed the respective marks posted by the other four here.

Pitcher Years W-L IP ERA K/9
Hideo Nomo
1990-94 78-46 1051.1 3.13 10.3
Hideki Irabu
1992-96 46-39 787 2.87 9.8
Daisuke Matsuzaka
2002-06 63-33 814.2 2.62 9.3
Kei Igawa
2002-06 75-43 997.1 3.14 8.6
Yu Darvish
2007-11 76-28 1024.1 1.72 9.5

Seriously, just look at the ERA, winning percentage -- and again keep in mind his WHIP is greater by a large margin -- and ask yourself if you really want to use how those first four fared in America as a fair baseline for how the 6-foot-5 Darvish will translate. He's obviously been the much greater pitcher in Japan, so it's not fair to believe he's Fat Toad 2.0 ... or even Dice-K 2.0. Darvish is better than each of these four ever was. Period.

Sources: The Baseball Cube,, Sports Nippon and

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Since: Mar 8, 2011
Posted on: December 20, 2011 12:22 am

Darvish much better than past imported pitchers

An American pitcher would never post 5 AAA seasons with a 1.72 ERA since he would have been called up long before that fifth season. As we've seen many times though, guys who were capable of putting up gaudy stats at AAA don't always succeed at the major league level.

Since: Jun 3, 2010
Posted on: December 19, 2011 11:53 pm

Darvish much better than past imported pitchers

Not only that, irishkorn26, but what if an American pitcher posted a 1.72 ERA through five Triple-A seasons? Fans would be drooling ...

Thanks for reading.

- Matt

Since: Jul 10, 2008
Posted on: December 19, 2011 11:48 pm

Darvish much better than past imported pitchers

Japanese BB is widely considered to be between AAA and majors.  You can find that information everywhere and many GM's have said such so the comment it isn't even as good as AAA is just ridiculous.

Since: Dec 19, 2011
Posted on: December 19, 2011 10:06 pm

Darvish much better than past imported pitchers

redsox smartened up this time and didn"t even bid !

Since: Dec 19, 2011
Posted on: December 19, 2011 10:04 pm

Darvish much better than past imported pitchers

Japanese pro ball is not even as good as triple a in the states thats why these players fail . Any team that bids like the redsox and yankees have in the past is crazy

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: December 19, 2011 9:09 pm

Darvish much better than past imported pitchers

you forgot to add in Japan.No telling how good he will be in the US

Since: Oct 16, 2011
Posted on: December 19, 2011 9:01 pm

Darvish much better than past imported pitchers

I guess I would ask this question if I was a GM. If you didn't know he was from Japan, and you could pretend all that vidoe was him pitching in College or AAA what would think about him? I know you can't really do this, but I think that's the best way to try and evaluate these guys.

But I do think that with the end of the steroid era, and as America strength training is exported these guys will get better. I know they are different sports but look at how the first wave of European NBA players in the late 80's-90's compare to the new wave 00's and on. They are much better on average, although maybe only one Dirk ( and South American who played in Europe Ginaboli) are stars. Yes I know there were a few star/good European players in the 90's (Detlef Schrempf, Rik Smits) but I think the average European player is much better today. I think this will happen in Japan also.

Since: May 20, 2008
Posted on: December 19, 2011 6:10 pm

Darvish much better than past imported pitchers

Dice K is not going to get better. I used to watch him in high school while I was stationed in Japan, He was absolutely abused by his coach. The games he didn't start he came in to relief. He made his rep like Ichiro, and Matsui in the high school Finals. In the 3 games he had a 17 inning complete game, relived the next game for 2 innings then a complete game 9 innings the next. His arm is done.
Darvish is a different story he was protected by having other future pro players on his team and the Ham Fighters are a class team. 

Since: Sep 19, 2011
Posted on: December 19, 2011 5:12 pm

Darvish much better than past imported pitchers

I don't think it will matter how Yu Darvish number compare to other Japan's Pitchers that came to USA, Irabu and Matsuzaka was better Pitcher then Nomo in Japan. When they came to USA Nomo played 12 years while Igawa and Irabu barely last 2 season. Matsuzaka has injury problem the last 3 years and some say he is a bust, but the book is still open on him. so it should be interesting how Yu Darvish do in his first 4 season's, Nomo and Matsuzaka had 2 good season then went down hill after that.

I am really sure my team won't win the bid, so I am hoping Texas win the bid if the Cubs don't

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