The Yu Darvish Home Run Epidemic
But the one single factor that stuck with me was Darvish’s home run rate. Last year Darvish allowed 14 home runs in 191.1 innings and in 2013 he has allowed 24 home runs in 179.2 innings pitched. In 2012 Yu’s home run to flyball ratio (HR/FB) was 9.1%, meaning that 9.1% of flyballs last year left the yard. This year it has increased to 15.4%, which is a significant jump.
In trying to decipher the reasoning behind the increase in bombs off of Yu, we looked at every single one of the 24 home runs that he has allowed this season.
|Date||Player||LH/RH||Team||Score||Inning||ROB||Count||Pitch Type||Catcher||Batting Order||Team W/L|
|2013-04-30||Dewayne Wise||L||CHW||ahead 4-2||T 6||1–||(2-2)||Curve||Soto||9||W|
|2013-05-05||David Ortiz||L||BOS||tied 0-0||T 1||1–||(3-1)||Cutter||Pierzynski||4||—|
|2013-05-05||David Ross||R||BOS||behind 0-2||T 2||—||(1-0)||Curve||Pierzynski||7||W|
|2013-05-11||Matt Dominguez||R||@ HOU||ahead 1-0||B 3||—||(1-0)||Sinker||Soto||8||—|
|2013-05-11||Matt Dominguez||R||@ HOU||tied 1-1||B 5||1–||(2-0)||Cutter||Soto||8||W|
|2013-05-16||Don Kelly||L||DET||ahead 1-0||T 3||—||(3-1)||Cutter||Soto||8||—|
|2013-05-16||Jhonny Peralta||R||DET||ahead 8-3||T 4||—||(1-1)||Fastball||Soto||7||W|
|2013-05-21||Yoenis Cespedes||R||OAK||tied 0-0||T 3||—||(0-0)||Cutter||Pierzynski||3||L|
|2013-05-27||Didi Gregorius||L||@ ARI||ahead 4-2||B 8||1–||(2-0)||Cutter||Pierzynski||2||L|
|2013-06-18||Brandon Moss||L||OAK||tied 0-0||T 2||—||(0-1)||Sinker||Pierzynski||5||—|
|2013-06-18||John Jaso||L||OAK||behind 0-2||T 3||—||(0-1)||Sinker||Pierzynski||2||L|
|2013-06-25||Travis Hafner||L||@ NYY||ahead 2-0||B 4||—||(0-1)||Curve||Pierzynski||4||—|
|2013-06-25||Brett Gardner||L||@ NYY||ahead 3-1||B 5||—||(1-1)||Slider||Pierzynski||1||—|
|2013-06-25||Jayson Nix||R||@ NYY||ahead 3-2||B 6||—||(0-0)||Slider||Pierzynski||7||L|
|2013-07-06||Brandon Barnes||R||HOU||tied 0-0||T 4||1–||(2-1)||Fastball||Soto||7||L|
|2013-07-27||Michael Bourn||L||@ CLE||tied 0-0||B 1||—||(1-0)||Fastball||Soto||1||L|
|2013-08-06||Kole Calhoun||L||@ LAA||ahead 2-0||B 1||—||(2-1)||Fastball||Pierzynski||1||—|
|2013-08-06||Mike Trout||R||@ LAA||ahead 2-1||B 1||—||(0-0)||Fastball||Pierzynski||2||W|
|2013-08-12||Carlos Corporan||L||@ HOU||ahead 2-0||B 8||—||(0-0)||Fastball||Soto||6||W|
|2013-08-24||Adam Dunn||L||@ CHW||ahead 2-0||B 6||1–||(0-0)||Fastball||Pierzynski||4||L|
|2013-08-30||Chris Herrmann||L||MIN||ahead 2-0||T 7||1–||(2-0)||Fastball||Pierzynski||2||—|
|2013-08-30||Justin Morneau||L||MIN||tied 2-2||T 7||—||(2-1)||Slider||Pierzynski||3||L|
|2013-09-04||Brandon Moss||L||@ OAK||tied 0-0||B 1||1–||(1-0)||Cutter||Pierzynski||4||—|
|2013-09-04||Daric Barton||L||@ OAK||behind 3-2||B 6||1–||(2-2)||Slider||Pierzynski||6||L|
There are several interesting things to point out when looking at the above 24 home runs.
- All are either solo shots or two-run homers. Looking back to last year as well, Darvish has never allowed a three-run homer or a grand slam.
- Brandon Moss and Matt Dominguez have got him twice this year.
- Of the last 9 home runs, only 3 have come against teams with winning records and all 9 have come in the 1st inning or in the 6th or after.
- 3 have come on curveballs, 3 on sinkers, 4 on sliders, 6 on cutters and 8 on fastballs including a stretch of 7 in a row.
- 16 have come with AJ Pierzynski behind the plate and 8 with Geovany Soto catching. Pierzynski has caught 112.1 of Darvish’s 179.2 innings pitched, or 62.5% of them.
- 16 have come from left handed hitters and 8 from right handed hitters.
- The Rangers record when Darvish allows a home run in 2013 is 6-8.
- Oakland hitters have gotten Yu 5 times while Astros hitters have accomplished that 4 times.
- 5 times Darvish has allowed multiple home runs in the same game.
- Hitters 1-3 have hit 9 home runs, hitters 4-6 have hit 7, hitters 7-9 have hit 8.
- Darvish allowed 8 home runs in May, the most of any month, all in successive starts.
- 12 (half) of the home runs occurred when Darvish was behind in the count.
- 9 home runs have been allowed with an even count, including 5 on the first pitch.
If we look at the situation that these homers are occurring, something does jump out. Of Darvish’s 24 bombs allowed, there are 16 occasions that he has given up the lead or tie. Regardless of your feelings towards Yu Darvish as an ace or not, this is a troubling trend. Can it be corrected? Yes. Will it?
The question we have to ask is this year an outlier, or is it going to be the norm? I would gather that most would put this in the category of a rogue year, taking into account the “stuff” he has. That is where I would put it. I for one, cannot see a pitcher of Darvish’s caliber continue to give up home runs at the current rate.
Yu Darvish is a beast with an amazing array of pitches. Yes, he can improve in a couple of areas like pitch efficiency and obviously limiting the home run. But he is filthy when he is on the mound most of the time. Derek Holland had a stretch like this with home runs in 2011 and 2012 when he allowed 22 and 32 home runs, respectively. Holland has been a different pitcher this year and I think we can see Darvish follow suit.