Yu Darvish, Ace

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Yu Darvish is wonderful at baseball.

He’s still so novel, so intriguing to watch, that I can be sober and enjoy him just the same.

On Thursday night in a makeup game against the Diamondbacks, Yu Darvish struck out 14 hitters for the 4th time in 2013, in route to a 7-1 Rangers’ victory that was never really in doubt at any juncture. For more Darvish perspective:

What does it all mean? It means the Rangers have on their hands one fantastically dominant starting pitcher amidst an era where pitching is king. Is Yu Darvish the best pitcher in Major League Baseball? There’s an argument to be made, just as there’s an argument for a half-dozen other pitchers out there.

What does not require doubt is the value Darvish has provided in 2013, and how for some reason he doesn’t ever quite seem to get the recognition he deserves.

On the season, Yu has posted a Major League-best K/9 rate (12.07) — with nearly a 4:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio — and, according to FanGraphs, he’s accumulated the 5th-most Wins Above Replacement (+3.8) for an American League pitcher.

Ahead of him, in descending order, are Felix Hernandez (+5.0 fWAR), Max Scherzer (+4.3 fWAR), Derek Holland (+4.1 fWAR), and Chris Sale (+3.9 fWAR).

Yet, for a half-Japanese, half-Iranian import whose services cumulatively took north of $100 million to ascertain — roughly $51 million for the posting fee added on to a 6-year, $56 million contract — he really doesn’t get that much press. Not unless he forces the issue by striking out 14 in a game, or something.

This, of course, isn’t to say his lack of through-the-roof notoriety bothers me; in fact, the opposite is true; I would say it surprises me more than anything, if for nothing else I feel like the majority of Ranger fans understand that Yu Darvish is a true superstar in every sense the label evokes. And that’s good enough for me.

Still, don’t count on finding Yu’s name coming up too much around Cy Young Award time. After all, Darvish is *only* 10-5 on the year. There are plenty of lesser pitchers with better records — probably with way better narratives to go along with their seasons — to accept such prestigious honors.

The fact is, his ERA on the season has sunk down all the way to 2.66; his xFIP is 2.64; his SIERA is 2.65; essentially, Yu Darvish is the prototype for all the fancy math equations FanGraphs has designed to quantify the overall effectiveness of a starting pitcher.

So you can keep your pitch counts, and the fastballs Yu is supposed to throw more of. I’ll just take him for what he is, a true Ace.

 

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