No, CJ Wilson is not close to being Yu Darvish

An article surfaced this morning via Mac Engel and the Fort Worth Star Telegram, that claimed the gap between former Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson and current Ranger Yu Darvish was not as large as perceived.

The headline, “Thus Far, Yu not that much better than C.J.”, immediately caught my attention and made me go, “What?” Being the curious baseball mind that I am, I click on the article. Engel’s argument is that Wilson’s five years with the Angels, going 51-35 with a 3.87 ERA, v.s. Darvish’s 46-30 with a 3.29 ERA in that same time with Texas is not worth the $33 million extra the Rangers paid to make Darvish their franchise pitcher.

The only problem with this argument is that wins and losses do not matter nearly as much as they’ve been historically weighted and are not a relevant stat to measure pitcher success. Unless they are in ridiculous volume, such as a 300-win career or a 20-win season, win/loss record and ERA are obsolete. Here’s why:

  1. Any stat that relies on teammates can’t be used to measure an individual’s success. A pitcher can give up one hit and receive a loss because he didn’t receive any run support. On the contrary, a pitcher can give up ten runs and get a win, because his team scored 11. When looking at win/loss on the surface, it is impossible to know how good the pitcher truly was in those starts.
  2. ERA is one of the most subjective stats in baseball today. ERA is affected by the official scorer. The scorer could deem what seems to be a clear error a base hit, or vise versa. They could deem a passed ball is a wild pitch, or vise versa. If a pitcher leaves the game with stranded runners, it is up to the reliever to make sure those runs don’t get charged to the starter’s ERA. I could go on and on, but any stat that can be affected by someone else is not something that should be used to evaluate an individual.

Here, is why Yu Darvish is significantly better than C.J. Wilson:

  1. There is absolutely zero argument who the more talented pitcher of the two is. Darvish has 12 different pitches he can throw, all with ridiculous movement. His ability to change speeds and catch the hitter off guard is on par with the elite pitchers in the game.
  2. Since Darvish’s entry into the league in 2012, he is striking batters out at a rate of 11.8 per nine innings. During that same span, Wilson has a 7.7 K/9. According to Fangraphs, anything above 10.0 K/9 (the highest threshold they have) is considered “excellent.” Wilson’s 7.7 K/9 is considered “average.”
  3. Darvish is walking batters at 2.8 BB/9, an “average,” clip. Wilson walked batters at a 3.7 K/9. According to Fangraphs, a 3.5 BB/9 is considered “poor,” and a 4.0 BB/9 is considered “awful.”
  4. Since 2012, Wilson has a WHIP of 1.34, compared to Darvish’s 1.12. A 1.10 WHIP is considered “great,” by Fangraphs, and a 1.30 WHIP is considered “average.”

If those numbers don’t convince you, let’s take each pitcher’s best year and compare them.

  • Wilson’s 2011 (6th place in Cy Young): 16-7 with a 2.94 ERA, 8.3 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, and a 1.18 WHIP.
  • Darvish’s 2013 (Runner-up in Cy Young): 13-9 (including four 1-0 losses) with a 2.83 ERA, 11.9 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, and a 1.07 WHIP.

Since the beginning of 2012 when Wilson joined the Angels and Darvish joined the Rangers, Wilson was average to below average in every important pitching category. Darvish ranks among the elite. It is not a far-fetched statement by any means to call Yu Darvish one of the top 5 pitchers in the last five years (unless you use Win/Loss to determine success). Darvish goes into the final year of his 6-year, $60-million contract this season, and will likely triple his salary before he steps on the rubber in 2018. The numbers speak for themselves.

Yu Darvish is elite.

C.J Wilson is not, and never was.

It’s time to put to bed the narrative that Yu Darvish isn’t an elite pitcher in Major League Baseball.

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Jeff Cooperstein
I'm a Junior at UNT, and a lover of all things sports.

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