• Before You Get Too Excited About Masahiro Tanaka

    Posted by on November 8th, 2013 · Comments (13)

    Take a look at these two Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles pitchers over the last three seasons:

    Pitcher A:

    Year Age Tm Lg ERA G GS GF SV IP
    2011 30 Rakuten JPPL 2.04 34 5 27 17 53.0
    2012 31 Rakuten JPPL 2.79 46 0 17 6 42.0
    2013 32 Rakuten JPPL 3.35 37 0 26 17 37.2
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
    Generated 11/8/2013.

    .
    Pitcher B:

    Year Age Tm Lg ERA G GS GF IP
    2011 22 Rakuten JPPL 1.27 27 27 0 226.1
    2012 23 Rakuten JPPL 1.87 22 22 0 173.0
    2013 24 Rakuten JPPL 1.27 28 27 1 212.0
    Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
    Generated 11/8/2013.

    .

    Pitcher B is Tanaka.  Pitcher B is…

    ..Darrell Rasner.

    Granted, yes, without question, the roles and inning pitched totals are different.  But, the point is:  The Japan Pacific League ain’t exactly pitching against the Boston Red Sox.    But, I’m sure that Jean Afterman can tell Brian Cashman that…

    Comments on Before You Get Too Excited About Masahiro Tanaka

    1. rankdog
      November 9th, 2013 | 7:55 am

      So what you’re pointing out is that Rasner has double the ERA as a middle relief pitcher than one of the top Japanese starters?

      This comparison is very crappy. Do you often compare minor league starter prospects with failed MLB starters filling innings at AAA as relief pitchers?

      Tanaka may be good or he may suck but this comparison isn’t showing us anything.

    2. November 9th, 2013 | 8:30 am

      It shows you that Tanaka is running up those numbers against hitters who are not MLB caliber, or, perhaps, even AAA caliber.

    3. MJ Recanati
      November 9th, 2013 | 10:37 am

      Having never seen Tanaka pitch, I don’t think we can really just look at stats and make blanket comparisons.

      Is there a critical mass of opinion out there as to how he profiles in the majors (the way the scouting community was wowed by Darvish, Matsuzaka, and Nomo)? That’s more significant than just looking at the stats. If the scouting community thinks his makeup, his mechanics, and his stuff will play in the majors, that’s worth more than a flawed side-by-side comparison of a young starter and an older middle reliever.

    4. McMillan
      November 9th, 2013 | 1:56 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      Is there a critical mass of opinion out there as to how he profiles in the majors (the way the scouting community was wowed by Darvish, Matsuzaka, and Nomo)?

      Or the way Cashman’s scouting department was wowed by Kei Igawa…

    5. Kamieniecki
      November 9th, 2013 | 3:40 pm

      How much worse can Pitcher B be than Michael Pineda?

      rankdog wrote:

      This comparison is very crappy. Do you often compare minor league starter prospects with failed MLB starters filling innings at AAA as relief pitchers?

      @ rankdog:
      It’s just a simple comparison with a player that once pitched for the New York Yankees whom people are familiar with – it’s not supposed to be the basis for a $60 million posting fee.

      Rest assured: with or without Tanaka, this team will have league-average or below pitching in 2014-15, or beyond. And while there have been teams that have won with league-average offense, very few have won with league-average pitching.

      A.J. Burnett’s available too…

    6. PHMDen
      November 9th, 2013 | 9:45 pm

      Kamieniecki wrote:

      \
      … very few have won with league-average pitching.

      Fewer than “very few:” about 3 teams since 1969.

    7. KPOcala
      November 10th, 2013 | 1:13 am

      @ MJ Recanati: MJ, you nailed it. I also have to add that Steve’s comparison would be a major stretch even if “A&B” were MLB players. And God, the Yankees made one terrible choice with their Japanese signees, and are therefore incapable of picking out a “good one”. And as everyone forgotten that the Yankees signed Soriano out of Japanese baseball? What IS scary as hell, though, was his usage during this years playoffs. Since they knew he was leaving, they probably would have had him start a day/night double-header……….

    8. Mr. October
      November 10th, 2013 | 8:40 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      Having never seen Tanaka pitch, I don’t think we can really just look at stats and make blanket comparisons.

      @ MJ Recanati:
      Thank you for educating us…
      @ KPOcala

    9. Corey
      November 13th, 2013 | 10:23 pm

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      Having never seen Tanaka pitch, I don’t think we can really just look at stats and make blanket comparisons.

      Exactly. You know who else was on that 2011 team? The guy who got 3rd place in the AL Cy Young vote this year, Hisashi Iwakuma.

      He went 6-7 with a 2.42 ERA and a whip of 1.05 and a 4.74 k/bb in 119 innings.

      The year before Iwakuma went 10-9 with a 2.82 ERA and a whip of 1.095 and a 4.25 k/bb in 201 innings.

      So do you put Iwakuma in the same class as Rasner? Or do you just throw the whole stats comparison out the window?

    10. Kamieniecki
      November 13th, 2013 | 11:38 pm

      Corey wrote:

      You know who else was on that 2011 team? The guy who got 3rd place in the AL Cy Young vote this year, Hisashi Iwakuma.

      Great. Let’s see Cashman come up with a pitcher from Japan capable of a third runner up finish in A.L. Cy Yound Award voting at a cost closer to $10-15 million than $100-150 million; we’ll all hold our collective breath.

    11. Corey
      November 14th, 2013 | 1:52 pm

      @ Kamieniecki:
      I was merely pointing out that looks at these stats means next to nothing.

    12. Kamieniecki
      November 16th, 2013 | 6:42 pm

      Corey wrote:

      I was merely pointing out that looks at these stats means next to nothing.

      @ Corey:
      It is a fairly simple matter, or straightforward calculation, to determine what Masahiro Tanaka’s W-L record, and Earned Run Average, will be in 2014, if Tanaka is signed by The New York Yankees.

      All one has to do is weigh the E.R.A., G.S., and decisions of the Yankees’ #1, #2, and #3 starters from last year:

      Sabathia: 14-13; 4.78 E.R.A.
      Kuroda: 11-13; 3.31 E.R.A.
      Pettitte: 11-11; 3.74 E.R.A.

      If Tanaka starts 31 games, he can reasonably expect somewhere between 23-25 decisions, and taking the average of those E.R.A.s and WPCTs above, that means something like 12-12, or 12-13, with an E.R.A. of 3.94.

      Keep in mind, he will not have average or slightly better defensive support, very good bullpen support, or excellent to outstanding offensive support.

      Hey, this model worked great for Javier Vazquez in 2010. Almost:

      Evan3457 wrote:

      Well, I’m weighing the ERA, starts and decisions of their #2, #3, and #4 starters from last year in that:

      Burnett 13-9, 4.04
      Pettitte, 14-8, 4.16
      Chamberlain, 9-6 4.75

      If Vazquez starts 34 games, he can reasonably expect somewhere between 23-25 decisions, and taking the average of those ERA and WPCT above, that means something like 14-9 and 15-10 for an ERA of 4.33 [in 2010].

      http://waswatching.com/2010/03/30/the-javier-vazquez-question/
      @ rankdog,
      @ MJ Recanati,
      @ KPOcala

    13. McMillan
      November 17th, 2013 | 4:06 pm

      Kamieniecki wrote:

      It is a fairly simple matter, or straightforward calculation, to determine what Masahiro Tanaka’s W-L record, and Earned Run Average, will be in 2014, if Tanaka is signed by The New York Yankees.
      All one has to do is weigh the E.R.A., G.S., and decisions of the Yankees’ #1, #2, and #3 starters from last year:

      Sabathia: 14-13; 4.78 E.R.A.
      Kuroda: 11-13; 3.31 E.R.A.
      Pettitte: 11-11; 3.74 E.R.A.

      If Tanaka starts 31 games, he can reasonably expect somewhere between 23-25 decisions, and taking the average of those E.R.A.s and WPCTs above, that means something like 12-12, or 12-13, with an E.R.A. of 3.94.

      @ Kamieniecki:
      No mathematician or logician would let you get away with that.

      Corey wrote:

      So do you put Iwakuma in the same class as Rasner? Or do you just throw the whole stats comparison out the window?

      It’s possible Tanaka can be a no. 2 starter in M.L.B. in the years to come, but this league is the equivalent of Triple-A.

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