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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Verducci: Lack of Success for Japanese Stars Opens Debate About Next Wave

What does the 16-year history of transitions from Japan to the states mean for Darvish’s market? Not as much as you might think. One executive evaluated Darvish as a No. 2 starter. Another described him as “a middle- to top-of-the rotation starter now. He has the size, strength and age to overcome some of the transition problems. And if he does come out this year, there [are] not a whole lot of starting pitchers on the market, so that works in his favor.”

Darvish, a long-strider with a three-quarters arm slot, throws a fastball in the mid-90s, a hard-breaking slider or cutter, curveball and changeup, has exceptional command, strikes out more than a batter per inning and rarely gives up home runs. He throws with a slight “wrist wrap” as he takes the ball behind his body, adding to the impression that his pitching style evokes a taller version of David Cone. Like many Japanese aces, he often runs up big pitch counts with extra days of rest in between. In 2010 alone he threw 140 pitches or more in a game nine times—more than every major league pitcher combined over the past nine years. This year he hit 140 just once, but still reached 120 pitches 15 times. No major league pitcher has thrown 15 120-pitch games in a season since 2005, when Livan Hernandez did so.

Darvish figures to command a posting fee between Iwakuma’s $19.1 million and Matsuzaka’s $51 million—and closer to Dice-K territory.

When another executive was asked if the checkered history of other NPB pitchers would depress Darvish’s value, he replied, “Remarkably, no. In the landscape of a competitive market, people turn a blind eye to history or believe this is the one guy who is the exception to the rule—that somehow this one guy is more capable than all the others we know about. It happens with all free agents. We establish two values for a player now: what we call his fair market value—what his true worth is—and what we think he might get on the open market. Those tend to be two very different numbers.”

Bourbon Samurai, what price fettucine? Posted: November 15, 2011 at 08:29 PM | 16 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: dodgers, international, japan, red sox

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   1. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: November 15, 2011 at 09:51 PM (#3994315)
Which pitchers have hit this two year "wall" aside from Nomo and Dice K? I don't remember a lot of talk about this before Dice K was signed.
   2. Yeaarrgghhhh Posted: November 15, 2011 at 10:00 PM (#3994322)
I just skimmed the list of Japanese born pitchers in BBREF and couldn't find another pitcher that fits this profile.

All in all, the Japanese stars have done pretty well in the US. Matsui was good for several years, Kuroda has been pretty good, Ichiro is Ichiro, and Nomo and Dice K were both very good for a couple years.
   3. there isn't anything to do in buffalo but 57i66135 Posted: November 15, 2011 at 10:27 PM (#3994349)
All in all, the Japanese stars have done pretty well in the US. Matsui was good for several years, Kuroda has been pretty good, Ichiro is Ichiro, and Nomo and Dice K were both very good for a couple years.
uehara is pretty good. takahashi has been pretty decent. saito has pitched as well as any reliever in the league at times in his career. iguchi was useful. matsui was, too.


there have been a lot of serviceable players to come over. maybe they aren't the best players in the league, but for the most part, they've produced.
   4. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: November 15, 2011 at 11:00 PM (#3994377)
Irabu did OK for a fat pussy toad
   5. Rally Posted: November 16, 2011 at 12:29 AM (#3994439)
Kaz Sasaki was one hell of a closer for 3 years. Okajima was about as good a lefty middle inning pitcher as you could find. going back a few years, Hasegawa was a great long reliever. He had seasons of relief inning eating that are not really seen anymore, like 1998 (61 games, no starts, 97 IP).
   6. Rally Posted: November 16, 2011 at 12:30 AM (#3994442)
Generally you're not going to see these players improve, and their usefulness in MLB will be short, because they are usually on the wrong side of 30 when they get to North America.
   7. RollingWave Posted: November 16, 2011 at 02:22 AM (#3994506)
Again, I often find it baffling on Nomo's part when using the silly wall talk, Nomo had his last great year in 2003 for crying out loud.
   8. Shibal Posted: November 16, 2011 at 04:08 AM (#3994576)
Will Carroll will soon be labeling this effect the Verducci Wall, a pseudo-stat that sounds good but has no bearing in the real world.
   9. DanG Posted: November 16, 2011 at 04:46 AM (#3994607)
Born in Japan, seasons of 2+ WAR

Rk                  Yrs From   To   Age
1     Ichiro Suzuki  10 2001 2010 27
-36
2     Hideki Matsui   5 2004 2010 30
-36
3      Dave Roberts   3 2002 2006 30
-34
4   Kosuke Fukudome   2 2009 2011 32
-34
5     Kenji Johjima   2 2006 2007 30
-31
6      Kazuo Matsui   1 2007 2007 31
-31
7   Akinori Iwamura   1 2007 2007 28
-28
8   Tadahito Iguchi   1 2005 2005 30
-30 

Pitching WAR

Rk                       Yrs From   To   Age
1             Hideo Nomo   7 1995 2003 26
-34
2              Tomo Ohka   4 2000 2005 24
-29
3          Hiroki Kuroda   3 2008 2011 33
-36
4         Hideki Okajima   2 2007 2008 31
-32
5      Daisuke Matsuzaka   2 2007 2008 26
-27
6          Takashi Saito   2 2006 2007 36
-37
7         Akinori Otsuka   2 2004 2006 32
-34
8          Masato Yoshii   2 1998 1999 33
-34
9    Shigetoshi Hasegawa   2 1998 2003 29
-34
10           Koji Uehara   1 2011 2011 36
-36
11        Shingo Takatsu   1 2004 2004 35
-35
12            Mac Suzuki   1 2000 2000 25
-25
13          Hideki Irabu   1 1998 1998 29
-29 
   10. base ball chick Posted: November 16, 2011 at 04:57 AM (#3994617)
i didn't know that shiggy was born in japan. he was teh HOTTTTT except for that stupid mustache - which i could have easily helped him off with....
   11. KJOK Posted: November 16, 2011 at 05:57 AM (#3994646)
I'd probably argue that the Japanese pitchers have performed slightly BETTER than expected. Most predictions tend to underestimate the power of moving to a larger, deader ball and having major league fielders behind you.

The relievers especailly - Sasaki, Saito, Otsuka and even Okajima have done very well in the U.S.
   12. Who Swished In Your Cornflakes? Posted: November 16, 2011 at 06:18 PM (#3994895)
Hasegawa was one of my favorite players growing up, for some reason. I think he was the impetus for my obsession with middle relievers.
   13. asdf1234 Posted: November 16, 2011 at 06:29 PM (#3994902)
Most predictions tend to underestimate the power of moving to a larger, deader ball and having major league fielders behind you.


I've heard the size of the baseball thing before, specifically when Matsuzaka first came over. The Internet is all over the place with misinformation, but the best I can tell, the balls are the same size: http://japanesebaseball.com/forum/thread.gsp?forum=2&thread=22149. Anyone with more definitive info?
   14. Zonk is a Doorknob Whisperer Posted: November 16, 2011 at 06:29 PM (#3994903)
He throws with a slight “wrist wrap” as he takes the ball behind his body, adding to the impression that his pitching style evokes a taller version of David Cone.


Is this sort of that Rick Sutcliffe tuck type thing? That was the motion I used during my 1 IP pitching career.
   15. vortex of dissipation Posted: November 16, 2011 at 07:04 PM (#3994953)
I've heard the size of the baseball thing before, specifically when Matsuzaka first came over. The Internet is all over the place with misinformation, but the best I can tell, the balls are the same size: http://japanesebaseball.com/forum/thread.gsp?forum=2&thread=22149. Anyone with more definitive info?


Japan went to a standardized ball this year for all NPB play; until this season, teams could use any ball made by any manufacturer that met the specifications. The new Mizuno ball ushered in something of a dead ball era - only nine players in the two leagues combined hit over .300, and the league ERA in one league went from 4.13 to 3.06.

The specifications of the ball are the same as in the US (adjusted for metric measurements)

Weight L Weight H Circumference L Circumfrence H
MLB 5 oz 5.25 oz 9 in 9.25 in
NPB 5.002 oz 5.253 oz 9 in 9.29 in

Japan's standardized baseballs are popular with pitchers
   16. asdf1234 Posted: November 16, 2011 at 08:56 PM (#3995120)
NYTimes to the rescue. Thank you, vod.

In any given season, as many as nine manufacturers had supplied baseballs to Japan’s 12 teams. Many clubs, in fact, contracted with multiple suppliers and freely switched the balls they used in their home games depending on the series, the month or some other variable that had to be revealed in advance to the commissioner’s office.


Hard to believe that this went on as long as it did. The difference could be very small (like Smoltz/Carpenter's gripe about the balls in Cincy), but that's still enough to affect the occasional game.

Maybe old time fans of the NPB considered it a charming variable that made their game distinct.

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