More Than Just a Man: The Ascendancy of Yu Darvish

Throughout his rookie season and primarily towards the final months of the 2012 season, Yu Darvish was undeniably dominant. How dominant, you may ask? Well for starters, Darvish finished second amongst all starters in baseball with 10.4 K/9. Additionally, Darvish’s 5.1 fWAR tied him for 5th in all of baseball amongst starting pitchers with 2012 Cy Young winner, David Price and former Cy Young winner, Zack Greinke. Darvish’s only struggles seemed to be with issuing too many free passes—4.19 BB/9. But something clicked with Darvish in the final months of the 2012 season and it has apparently carried over into 2013. This version of Yu Darvish is no fluke.

Take Darvish’s numbers through 5 starts in 2013:

32.2 IP, 13.50 K/9, 2.76 BB/9, 0.00 HR/9, 59.0% GB, 1.20 FIP and a 1.96 xFIP

Obviously the walks are down and Darvish is also being rather selfish in the home run and ground ball departments. But do yourself a favor and just take a look and admire the PITCHf/x data from Darvish’s most recent start against the Angels, courtesy of FanGraphs (link).

Also, I’m sure you’ve already seen this amazing GIF, courtesy of LSB regular DShep:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As evidenced by PITCHf/x data and this amazing GIF, Yu Darvish has a nearly identical release point for all of his pitches. Unsurprisingly, Darvish again displayed a huge gaps in velocity, going from a 61 mph ephus curveball to a 97 mph tailing fastball in one AB, not to mention a widely concluded 80-grade slider in his back pocket.

Yu Darvish isn’t bothered by ballpark affects—his stuff negates such things. Yu Darvish isn’t bothered by in-game situations—he’s the same pitcher with no baserunners on as he is with the bases loaded. Yu Darvish isn’t the pitcher that reminded a scout of Daisuke Matsuzaka after his first two MLB starts—Darvish is a true ace.

Darvish aces the analysis of scouts, he aces the scrutiny of advanced metrics.

Darvish is already everything and more than what the Rangers expected.

$51,703,411

That’s a beautiful number, isn’t it? Perhaps a more beautiful one exists in the number 1—the number of firsts.

Darvish stands a strong chance to be the Rangers’ first ever Cy Young award winner but more importantly, Darvish stands a chance to be the ace on the Rangers’ first ever World Series Champion team. After all, isn’t everything a matter of chance?

A man can dream, can’t he? But boy, Darvish makes dreaming rather easy.

 

Topics: Albert Pujols, Daisuke Matsuzaka, David Price, Josh Hamilton, Mike Trout, Rangers, Texas, Texas Rangers, Yu Darvish, Zack Greinke

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  • Andy

    Excellent article. Sure is easy to dream on this. With Darvish at the helm, the sky’s the limit. No, wait, scratch that. The limit is beyond the sky. MVP, Cy Young, and World Series champion? Seems remotely possible.

    I look forward to every time Yu pitches, because there’s always the potential for something really special. I was at his near-perfecto, and I wish I could attend every game he pitches, because it seems pretty likely he’ll make history sometime.

    • Mike G.

      Thanks for checking out my article Andy.

      I can never recall being as excited to watch a game solely to see what a certain pitcher can do on any given night, and it’s like that with Darvish every time out. Between the intangibles (Darvish’s impeccable mound presence, demeanor, etc.) and his raw talent, Darvish has already pushed himself into ace-status with comparisons to Pedro Martinez—and the scary thing is that Darvish still has plenty of room to grow. By the way, that must’ve been a memory for the ages to witness Darvish’s near-perfecto in Houston. Quite frankly I’m jealous.

      • Eric Reining

        Excellent job posting the GIF. Simply amazing.

        • Mike G.

          I just read this morning that the creator of that GIF just joined the staff at FanGraphs. Awesome.

      • Andy

        It was a thing of beauty, for sure. Unfortunately, the thing I remember most from it was the image of Gonzalez’s hit off Yu and the collective groan from the crowd.

        • Mike G.

          Strangely enough, Yu Darvish was probably one of only a few people within the stadium that was smiling after the hit.

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