How Good Is Yu Darvish

The Yu Darvish imbroglio in the media and on social media the past month is a colossal beating, so here’s more. The one thing that sticks in my craw more than anything is the expectations that we have placed on Darvish. As Baseball Prospectus’ Jason Cole tweeted this week, the whole Darvish dust-up has gotten comical to him, as it has for several people. The one problem I see with the criticism of Darvish, is just how utterly absurd the expectations are for him. The “not an ace” talk is even more ridiculous, because there are several “aces” on other teams that haven’t had the year, statistically that Yu has, this year or ever. People seem to think that Roy Halladay never gave up a home run or Clayton Kershaw throws a shutout every time he’s on the mound. These are mistruths, that people have accepted as the norm. Are there issues with Darvish that he can improve on? Yes, absolutely…..several in fact.
Normally I would just let this go, shake my head and move on, but today on the radio in Dallas, a well known radio personality stated that in the games Darvish lost 1-0, he didn’t do his job because he allowed a run and the Rangers lost the game. I find this statement ridiculous on many levels.

To show just how ridiculous some of these expectations are, let’s look at Yu Darvish’s 2013 compared to a great season from a great pitcher.

Yu Darvish 2013 Player X
Games Started 31 34
Innings 204 251
ERA 2.82 2.40
Hits 141 174
Runs 66 73
Earned Runs 64 67
Home Runs 25 24
Strike Outs 269 250
Walks 78 60
ERA+ 146 172
WHIP 1.074 0.920
BA Against .193 .192
OBP .277 .242
SLG .333 .313
OPS .610 .555
BAbip .264 .237
IBB 1 0
H/9 6.2 6.2
BB/9 3.4 2.3
SO/9 11.9 9.0
SO/BB 3.45 4.39
WAR 5.7 8.4
Quality Starts 21 28
Avg. Game Score 63.3 65.9
# of Pitches 3367 3941
Looking at the above a few things jump out. The walks kill Darvish. That’s glaring in the comparison above as it elevates his pitch count and puts runners on base. However, as you can see Player X threw 574 more pitches than Darvish has so far in 2013. A lot of that is the amount of innings that Player X went, but also because he averaged 115 pitches per start. Darvish averages 108.

On the other side of the debate, you can see that Darvish has about the same batting average against and slugging percentage against. Also Darvish has 19 more strikeouts in 47 less innings, the identical hits per nine innings at 6.2 and a higher K/9 ratio, and Darvish has only given up one more home run than the “ace” in the other column.

As pointed out earlier there are things that Darvish can improve upon. Walks. Home runs. But as you can see aces give up home runs. In 2013, Darvish has given up a lead or tie 9 times. Player X gave up the lead or tie 10 times via the home run. The point is that the season Yu Darvish has had is great. Not good, great.  

Player X?

2011 Justin Verlander

Is this year as good as Verlander’s? No, but there are things that Yu does that compare, and there are things that Yu does that are better. Yu Darvish is an ace. Darvish isn’t as good as Verlander is right now, but he’s closer than you think. Someday, he will be as good, maybe better.
Patrick Despain is the CEO and Co-Founder of ShutDown Inning. He can be reached at or on Twitter @ShutDownInning
Patrick Despain
Patrick is a member of the IBWAA and creator of Shutdown Inning. He was raised him Arlington, Texas and grew up watching games on HSE and listening to Eric Nadel and Mark Holtz on the radio. He is a long time Rangers fan and never achieved his dream of being a bat boy. He know lives in Georgia with dreams of a Texas return.

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