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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Iwakuma gives Mariners a second true ace

Good idea from KLaw: “Have the Wilson sisters re-recorded ‘Barracuda’ with new lyrics that say ‘Iwakuma’ yet?”

the degree to which [Hisashi] Iwakuma is underrated is almost a crime.

He is easily the most anonymous ace in baseball, and all the proof you need is in this list of qualified American League starters that have a lower ERA than Iwakuma (2.63) since his first MLB start on July 2, 2012:

Yup, that would be no one…

[his] rate of 0.73 walks per nine innings easily leads all major-league starters and puts him on pace to enter the record books.

Only two qualified American League pitchers in baseball history have posted a walk rate that low in a single season: Carlos Silva (0.43 in 2005) and Cy Young (0.69 in 1904)...

The only other pitcher this season with a walk rate of less than four percent, a ground-ball rate of at least 50 percent and a strikeout rate of 20 percent or better is ... Mr. Clayton Kershaw…

thanks to the combination of baseball’s most anonymous ace (Iwakuma) and most deserving ace ([Felix] Hernandez), Seattle is now in prime position to give its fans something besides football to cheer about in October.

The District Attorney Posted: August 20, 2014 at 12:02 AM | 28 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hisashi iwakuma, mariners

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. vortex of dissipation Posted: August 20, 2014 at 12:38 AM (#4775097)
My favorite MLB player right now.
   2. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: August 20, 2014 at 01:18 AM (#4775108)
I think Corey Kluber could give Iwakuma a run for the anonymous ace title, given he's behind only the King (and barely) as the AL's best pitcher this year.

   3. Curse of the Andino Posted: August 20, 2014 at 01:37 AM (#4775112)
I think Corey Kluber could give Iwakuma a run for the anonymous ace title, given he's behind only the King (and barely) as the AL's best pitcher this year.


I'd never heard of him until he shut down Baltimore the other day, winning 2-1. Iwamura's a name I knew.
   4. The District Attorney Posted: August 20, 2014 at 01:52 AM (#4775115)
Iwamura's a name I knew.
You sure about that?
   5. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: August 20, 2014 at 02:24 AM (#4775120)
Iwamura's the #2 starter on the Marines, right?
   6. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: August 20, 2014 at 08:21 AM (#4775154)
So this ain't the end - I saw you throwin' today
Had to turn my face away
You pitch for the
M's - magic between the lines
Of chalk - no one draws a walk!
You lying so low in Seattle
Bet you gonna really battle
You'd have the league on their knees
Wouldn't you, Iwakuma?
   7. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: August 20, 2014 at 08:29 AM (#4775160)
It's great that this guy has reinvented himself as a pitcher after that horrible season with the Pirates.

Watching last night's game my wife thought the announcers were calling him "Kuma". She pointed out that this is the Japanese word for bear.

So his name actually consists of the Japanese word for bear, preceded by the George Lucas word for teddy bear.
   8. morineko Posted: August 20, 2014 at 08:53 AM (#4775180)
Iwakuma is so underrated, Joe Block (the Brewers' lesser PBP guy on the radio) still can't figure out how to pronounce his name when he runs through the league scoreboard on the postgame show.
   9. Nasty Nate Posted: August 20, 2014 at 10:00 AM (#4775230)
[his] rate of 0.73 walks per nine innings easily leads all major-league starters and puts him on pace to enter the record books.

Only two qualified American League pitchers in baseball history have posted a walk rate that low in a single season: Carlos Silva (0.43 in 2005) and Cy Young (0.69 in 1904)

"3rd in AL history in walks per nine innings in a season" isn't as glamorous as some other records...
   10. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: August 20, 2014 at 10:12 AM (#4775237)
A good rule of thumb, if Carlos Silva is the all-time leader in something, it's not something glamorous.

Looking closer at his record-breaking 2005 season, in 188 innings he had 71 strikeouts and 9 walks. Wow!

A typical Carlos Silva season was 190 innings, 80 strikeouts, 30 walks and 230 hits. I had no idea he was such a, um… is there a name for that kind of pitcher? "Guy who can't survive in the major leagues", maybe. But he thrived for 4 years with the Twins and then got a big-money deal from the Mariners, with whom he… ugh.

Does a guy with less than a strikeout every 2 innings even get a regular rotation spot nowadays?
   11. DKDC Posted: August 20, 2014 at 10:18 AM (#4775244)
You can't have a second ace. As long as he's on the same team as Felix, he's no ace.
   12. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 20, 2014 at 11:04 AM (#4775283)
You can't have a second ace. As long as he's on the same team as Felix, he's no ace.

Given the playing card roots of the word, I'm pretty sure you can have at least 4.
   13. PreservedFish Posted: August 20, 2014 at 11:11 AM (#4775292)
You can have multiple aces. And zero aces.

Every team, however, has exactly one "ace of the staff." Probably.
   14. Boxkutter Posted: August 20, 2014 at 11:18 AM (#4775296)
Every team, however, has exactly one "ace of the staff." Probably.


What about when Johnson and Schilling were together in Arizona?
   15. andrewberg Posted: August 20, 2014 at 12:16 PM (#4775381)
I was thinking a couple of weeks ago about how many pitchers one could reasonably say are better than Iwakuma. Even being quite charitable, I got to about 18 or 19, ad I think he is reasonably about the 14th or 15th best SP in baseball. If you grant that, any definition of ace that excludes him is pretty semantical.
   16. PepTech Posted: August 20, 2014 at 12:17 PM (#4775383)
FTFA:
He has gone at least seven innings in eight of those 10 starts, allowing more than two runs just once. Perhaps the most impressive statistic of this dominant stretch is this: 65 strikeouts, four walks.
Yowza.
   17. Danny Posted: August 20, 2014 at 12:29 PM (#4775398)
This rate of 0.73 walks per nine innings easily leads all major-league starters

Eh.

Iwakuma: 12 BB in 147 IP, 0.74 BB/9
Hughes: 15 BB in 158 IP, 0.85 BB/9
   18. PepTech Posted: August 20, 2014 at 12:40 PM (#4775426)
Iwakuma's 65/4 stretch is over 72 innings, for a .5 bb/9.

Hughes had a very similar stretch from April-June (67IP, 61/3).
   19. Danny Posted: August 20, 2014 at 01:03 PM (#4775470)
Kyle Lohse allowed 4 walks in 69 IP over 10 starts in April-June.
   20. theboyqueen Posted: August 20, 2014 at 01:03 PM (#4775471)
Closers are obviously a different breed, but Doolittle for the season is 77/4 over 53.2 innings.
   21. PepTech Posted: August 20, 2014 at 01:28 PM (#4775500)
Kyle Lohse allowed 4 walks in 69 IP over 10 starts in April-June
And I added him to my fantasy team in late June. Don't speak his name again.

Iwakuma's had 21 starts, so he's averaging 7IP, compared to Hughes 25. Not a huge difference, but it's something.

I completely agree, Hughes makes the word "easily" above a little suspect. It would be more accurate to say Iwakuma and Hughes easily lead the majors (3. Colon 1.172, 4. Kershaw 1.177, ... , 10. Chen 1.584).

The real question is, per Crispix, what *was* Silva smoking in 2005. 9BB in 188 IP? Anyone remember what was going on? That's Brady Anderson-esque.
   22. AROM Posted: August 20, 2014 at 01:28 PM (#4775501)
A typical Carlos Silva season was 190 innings, 80 strikeouts, 30 walks and 230 hits. I had no idea he was such a, um… is there a name for that kind of pitcher?


In high school we called that machine Iron Mike.
   23. Boxkutter Posted: August 20, 2014 at 02:41 PM (#4775553)
The real question is, per Crispix, what *was* Silva smoking in 2005. 9BB in 188 IP? Anyone remember what was going on? That's Brady Anderson-esque.


Extreme pitch-to-contact pitcher.
   24. The District Attorney Posted: August 20, 2014 at 02:51 PM (#4775556)
Neyer:
I will mention in passing that the M's had their dynamic duo last season, too. Of course both Hernandez and Iwakuma have been even better this season, which wouldn't have predicted.

Maybe the biggest different this season, though? Aside from Robinson Cano? Last season the M's finished with a 4.58 relief ERA, 14th in the American League. This season they're at 2.48 ... You want to see the list of teams with lower ERAs?

Yup, that would be none. The M's went from having nearly the worst bullpen to quite possibly the best.
   25. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: August 20, 2014 at 03:31 PM (#4775583)
Extreme pitch-to-contact pitcher.


Gave up a lot of home runs, too. At his peak he was still an above average pitcher, though.
   26. Walt Davis Posted: August 20, 2014 at 06:42 PM (#4775760)
Silva was a less successful version of Bob Tewksbury who managed to pull of a few of these in the early sillyball days.

For 2012-14, 37 pitcher-seasons with at least 10 starts and a K/9 of 5 or less. Jeremy Guthrie lives in this neighborhood. For 2014, you've got Nick Tepesch (Tex) at 4.57, Arroyo at 4.92, Feldman at 4.94, Correia at 4.62, Scott Carroll (CWS) at 4.62, Nick Martinez (Tex) at 4.92.

There were guys below 4.5 in 2013 -- Garland (he was still pitching?), Clayton Richard, Westbrook, Scott Diamond.

What Texas is thinking with two low-K starters in that ballpark I have no idea. Deaperation I assume.
   27. The District Attorney Posted: August 21, 2014 at 01:33 PM (#4776408)
Jeff Sullivan points out another part of Iwakuma's success: Basestealers are 0-for-8 against him this year. (The "0-fer" record is 0-for-9, by Luis Tiant in his pretty decent 1968 season.)

(And Iwakuma's main catcher, Zunino, is only throwing out 20% of basestealers with other pitchers.)
   28. Wins Above Paul Westerberg Posted: August 21, 2014 at 05:14 PM (#4776606)
I remember Carlos Silva's 2005 season well. His May 20 start against the Brewers was a thing of beauty. Complete game, five hits, one run, and no walks (natch) all on 74 pitches. With a three pitch inning in the sixth! God that Brewers team sucked.

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