Saturday, December 28, 2013

Tanaka Blast: NPB and MLB

Oh, how the worm turns.  After all the twists and turns with the potential posting of Masahiro Tanaka, the agreement had finally been settled - $20M max, if multiple max bids, then all can negotiate but only winner pays, else high bid gets to solely negotiate - and his Japanese team, after intimating that they might not post him and instead give him an $8M contract, instead posted him.  I think teams have about a month to get their bid in.


The Hardball Times Annual has a nice analysis of the NPB free agents who have come over to the MLB.   FYI, not one of the hitters had a better wRC+ in the MLB than the NPB, on average it dropped by around 20, from above average 115 to below average 96.

Of course, the one that matters here is the pitchers chart.  10 pitchers did worse in the MLB than they did in the NPB, using FIP- as the measuring stick.  On average dropped from 90 to 98, from good to slightly above average.  Two were roughly the same.  One was slightly better (Hiroki Kuroda, from 95 NPB to 90 MLB).  Only Takashi Saito was much better.

Still, Tanaka was historically good, with a 70 FIP-.  To compare, Yu Darvish was slightly better in similar IP, 69 FIP-.  And Dice-K was around 78 FIP-.  However, while Dice-K ended up roughly average at 99 FIP- MLB, Darvish is around 76 FIP- MLB.  Of course the big difference is that Darvish is still early in his MLB career, while Dice-K has gone through the ups and downs of his MLB career.

Still again, Tanaka is only 25 YO, and both Dice-K and Darvish came in at younger as well, Darvish at 25 YO too.  So he still has that younger upside relative to age than most any other had, as most were on the other side of 30 when they entered the MLB.   But while Dice-K had a few good seasons then injuries ruined his career, Darvish is still going strong, and is still just 27 YO for next season, so who knows how his contract will look long term, Dice-K looked good early on too.

I ran across this blog post comparing Tanaka with Dice-K and Darvish.  It is generally positive about Tanaka, particularly given his stature and usage of the sinker is very similar to Kuroda, who has had a good history of performance in the MLB.  A difference for Darvish is that he has the classic build of a power pitcher, so he's not a good comp with Tanaka.

Overall, I think Tanaka would be a good addition, just do a 6-man rotation to save the arms.  Go Giants!

5 comments:

  1. the comps are really interesting, but you never know until they're here right? I was looking at the sheer #s, and there just haven't been that many NPL guys overall, about 46 have made the show. If Tanaka turns out like Kuroda, who was extremely underrated while with the Dodgers, that would be a very good outcome.

    I have to think with the crazy amount of interest in him, the overbid to win him will be quite significant.

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  2. I'm going on the assumption that Tanaka will be a very good pitcher in MLB, probably more similar to Kuroda than Darvish, but that's still pretty good. The problem is the price that is going to get paid. He most certainly is not going to be an undervalued commodity! Then we run into the problem of valuation in a rapidly inflationary period. Are we in a true inflationary period or something more akin to a bubble? These are all questions that make what should be in investment in a solid income property take on the uncertainty of speculative buying.

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  3. Yeah, thanks for the comments, I agree that an overpay is likely, but to steal from Shankbone, you never know until you get into the situation. The Giants need to step in and make sure no competitor gets a cheap deal and pay fair price. And at that point they can decide if that is too much for them, which I would be OK with, but if they do add then a six man rotation is doable I think.

    If there is more money, and there is with the ESPN money, then this is real. The question is if the economy will continue to sputter or not. I do think so. But with the extra money it will be thrown around.

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  4. I don't know too many MLB pitchers who would really want to be on a team with a six man rotation. These guys want to pitch.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Luckily, the Giants only has to sell Tanaka on that premise, the other pitchers will need to understand that it is the best for the team.

      The selling point for Tanaka is that he is currently only used to pitching 25 or so starts each season. In a 6-man rotation, each starter gets 27 starts, plus whatever they do in the playoffs. Then next year, Vogelsong is the free agent, and the Giants can let him go, and go with a 5-man rotation of Cain, Bumgarner, Lincecum, Hudson, Tanaka. Or, if Lincecum was the weak link, they could move him into that uber-reliever role that he excelled in the 2012 playoffs, pitching both short and long relief as the situation required, and re-sign Vogelsong and again, go with the 5-man rotation.

      The key thing that the starters need to remember is that if the Giants felt the need to sign Tanaka to keep him out of the Dodger's hands, that's addition by subtraction, by keeping him out of their clutches. One season is not that long a time, and only reduces their workload around 5 starts, with the plus that it enables them to pitch stronger into the playoffs.

      Plus, I think that is the natural evolution that baseball is facing. Pitchers struggle to pitch in a five-man rotation plus playoffs over a number of seasons nowadays, even our guys all had collective weak spots in August in a number of seasons. A 6-man rotation run like the old 5-man would have the 6th man pitching from the bullpen in April, then joining in later. That gives the 5 guys 28 starts, and the 6th guy 23 starts, roughly. Throw in 2-3 starts in the playoffs, and that's 30-31 starts.

      Delete

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