Tue, Dec 20, 2011
The Texas Rangers earned the rights to sign pitcher Yu Darvish Monday night, after his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, accepted the Rangers’ posting fee bid of $51.7 million. The Rangers will now have 30 days to negotiate a contract with the 25-year-old right-hander.
Assuming Darvish does sign with Texas (we have no reason to believe he won’t), he’s a potential ace in terms of fantasy value.
During his five seasons in Japan, Darvish averaged 204 IP per year while compiling a 1.72 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 9.5 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9.
According to one anonymous longtime major league scout, Darvish features a “mid-90s fastball with late life, a good, hard slider with advanced feel for his changeup and a 12-6 hook.” (Video).
While some have been quick to compare him to Daisuke Matsuzaka, this anonymous scout warns against it.
“People knock Darvish because Matsuzaka’s relative struggles, but Daisuke was 6’0” and got fat. Darvish is 6’5″, works from a downhill plane giving his plus velocity heavy tilt to it. He’s also quite aggressive. Dice-K, like many Japanese arms, are knocked for nibbling and pitching inside infrequently. But there’s a Clemens-like streak in Darvish. He pounds the zone intelligently and works both sides of the plate well.”
So what’s Darvish’s ceiling in the majors? A 3.00 ERA with a K/9 in the 9.0 to 10.0 range?
“Maybe better,” he replied.
Unfortunately for Darvish, his new home park is a hitter’s paradise. According to ESPN’s MLB Park Factors, Rangers Ballpark in Arlington had the highest runs and home runs factor among all 30 major league ballparks last season.
The good news is, Oakland and Seattle (who finished 20th and 30th respectively in runs scored last season) are in Texas’ division, so he’s likely to face those light-hitting lineups a few times in 2012.
Trying to place Darvish on your 2012 fantasy draft board is a difficult task. On one hand, he has yet to throw a pitch in the majors. Yet based on what my untrained eye has seen, and what a scouting source told me, he has top-five potential. For now, I rank him somewhere in the 15-20 range, alongside the likes of Yovani Gallardo and Tommy Hanson. Counting on Darvish as your No. 1 starter would be quite a risk, but drafting him as your team’s No. 2 or 3 would be a safer approach.
Keeper and dynasty owners should take note, however, that drafting him in the seventh or eighth round this year may net you second or third round value in 2013. He’s that good.
Image courtesy of: Toni-chan21 via Flickr
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