Tag:Hideo Nomo
Posted on: December 19, 2011 4:42 pm
Edited on: December 19, 2011 6:32 pm

Darvish much better than past imported pitchers

By Matt Snyder

With Yu Darvish soon headed to America, the standard generalization from many seems to be that we have to lump him in with the other starting pitchers who have come over from Japan. Hideo Nomo and Daisuke Matsuzaka had good starts but didn't sustain it long-term (though Dice-K still has a chance to change that and Nomo had a very good year for the Dodgers late in his career) while Hideki Irabu and Kei Igawa were unmitigated busts.

As unfair as it is to assume all pitchers coming over from Japan will be a bust based upon four cases -- and it's incredibly unfair -- it's even more unfair to assume everyone coming over is created equally. Look at the position players: Hideki Matsui and Ichiro Suzuki panned out while a decent amount of position players have failed to meet expectations. We need to judge every player on an individual basis.

With that in mind, here's a chart comparing Darvish's Nippon Professional Baseball stats with the four previous big-name starting pitchers to come to Major League Baseball. I used only the pitchers' last five seasons in Japan, as Darvish has only been in the league for five years. Also, I was unable to find hits allowed in every season for all pitchers so unfortunately we had to leave WHIP off the chart. I can tell you with much confidence, however, that Darvish's career 0.89 WHIP would have dwarfed the respective marks posted by the other four here.

Pitcher Years W-L IP ERA K/9
Hideo Nomo
1990-94 78-46 1051.1 3.13 10.3
Hideki Irabu
1992-96 46-39 787 2.87 9.8
Daisuke Matsuzaka
2002-06 63-33 814.2 2.62 9.3
Kei Igawa
2002-06 75-43 997.1 3.14 8.6
Yu Darvish
2007-11 76-28 1024.1 1.72 9.5

Seriously, just look at the ERA, winning percentage -- and again keep in mind his WHIP is greater by a large margin -- and ask yourself if you really want to use how those first four fared in America as a fair baseline for how the 6-foot-5 Darvish will translate. He's obviously been the much greater pitcher in Japan, so it's not fair to believe he's Fat Toad 2.0 ... or even Dice-K 2.0. Darvish is better than each of these four ever was. Period.

Sources: The Baseball Cube, JapaneseBallplayers.com, Sports Nippon and Baseball-Reference.com.

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Posted on: November 14, 2011 7:05 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 7:07 pm

Rookie award may not predict future success

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Rookie of the Year awards are unique among baseball awards in that they are somewhat less about an individual year's performance as much as they are for the hope of better things to come. A Rookie of the Year win is a footnote on any Hall of Fame argument, not a bullet point. Meanwhile, any Hall of Fame argument will start with MVP wins for position players and Cy Young trophies for starting pitchers. If you have those, you have an argument, and if you won Rookie of the Year, that's nice.

Rookie of the Year
The Rookie of the Year award voting went exactly as Scott Miller predicted.
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No, Rookie of the Year is something to dream on -- there's the potential and what a player could become based upon a solid rookie year.

Jeremy Hellickson and Craig Kimbrel may end up being the best players of the 2010 rookie class, but it wouldn't be a real shock if they don't.

With that in mind, I wanted to look back on the past Rookie of the Year winners and what players had the best careers after winning the award and which ones peaked in their first year. Because this particular argument needs time for perspective, I've broken up the last 20 years in five-year increments. Below are the winners of the awards each year for both leagues, as well as their Wins Above Replacement (from Baseball-Reference.com) for both their rookie year and their career, as well as a decision on the best player in retrospect, the worst and the best duo from one year.


2006-2010 Rookie of the Year
2010 Neftali Feliz 2.3 5.0 Buster Posey 3.1 4.4
2009 Andrew Bailey  3.9 7.2  Chris Coghlan 2.1 2.8
2008 Evan Longoria  3.8 24.1 Geovany Soto 4.1 10.1
2007 Dustin Pedroia  4.3 24.3 Ryan Braun  1.5 21.8
2006 Justin Verlander  3.7 27.2 Hanley Ramirez  5.2 29.3

Best: This is where we need perspective -- and time. Right now it looks like you could go with any of six candidates -- Justin Verlander (AL 2006), Hanley Ramirez (NL 2006), Dustin Pedroia (AL 2007), Ryan Braun (NL 2007), Evan Longoria (AL 2008) and Buster Posey (NL 2010). In 10 years this may be easier to pick, but right now it's just way too close to call. Of the group, Ramirez has the highest career WAR.

Worst: Again, this is still way too early to call, but Chris Coghlan (NL 2009) may take this dubious honor. There's plenty of time for him to turn it around, but he finished 2011 hitting .230 at Triple-A New Orleans.

Best duo: Another toss-up -- 2006 had Ramirez and Verlander, while 2007 featured Pedroia and Braun. Check back in 10 years and this may seem to be an easier choice, but right now it's too close to call.

2001-2005 Rookie of the Year
2005 Huston Street 3.2 10.7 Ryan Howard 2.4 23.1
2004 Bobby Crosby 1.4 5.0 Jason Bay  2.2 19.7
2003  Angel Berroa 4.0 3.3 Dontrelle Willis 3.7 13.0
2002 Eric Hinske  4.0 10.3 Jason Jennings 1.7 7.4
2001 Ichiro Suzuki 7.6 54.5 Albert Pujols 6.9 88.7

Best: Albert Pujols (NL 2001). He may be the best player of our generation and best right-handed hitter of all time. With apologies to Ichiro Suzuki (AL 2001) and Ryan Howard (NL 2005), it's Pujols and it's not close.

Worst: Oh, Angel Berroa (AL 2003). Acquired in the deal that sent Johnny Damon and Mark Ellis to Oakland, Berroa last appeared in the big leagues in 2009. The Royals shortstop won the award over Tampa Bay's Rocco Baldelli and Hideki Matsui, earning the scorn of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. 

Best duo: Pujols and Suzuki would be a heck of a Hall of Fame class, not to mention a rookie class. Suzuki won not only the Rookie of the Year in 2001, he also took home the American League MVP.


1996-2000 Rookie of the Year
2000 Kazuhiro Sasaki 1.5 4.0 Rafael Furcal 3.6 33.1
1999 Carlos Beltran  4.4 60.8 Scott Williamson  2.7 8.2
1998  Ben Grieve 2.5 6.7 Kerry Wood 3.7 24.9
1997 Nomar Garciaparra  5.9 42.5  Scott Rolen 4.5 66.2
1996 Derek Jeter 2.6 70.4  Todd Hollandsworth 1.3 6.5

Best: Scott Rolen (NL 1997) and Carlos Beltran (AL 1999) have had fantastic careers, but Derek Jeter (AL 1996) is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and a baseball icon. Jeter also has the highest career WAR among the group of rookies.

Worst: This one is tough, if you guy by WAR, it's Kazuhiro Sasaki (AL 2000), who had just a 4.0 career WAR. However, Sasaki was 32 when he started in the United States and played just four seasons in the majors. In addition to his Rookie of the Year, he made the All-Star team in 2001 and 2002, recording 129 saves in four seasons. I'm going to take Ben Grieve (AL 1998) slightly over Todd Hollandsworth (NL 1996) based solely on Hollandsworth holding on longer (12 years to nine) and finding his late-career niche as a pinch hitter, while Grieve did appear in the majors after his 30th birthday -- and just 17 after his 29th birthday.

Best duo: How about Rolen and Nomar Garciaparra (AL 1997)? Garciapparra never quite lived up to the rival to Alex Rodriguez and Jeter as the greatest shortstop of his generation, but he was in the conversation for a time there. While each year from 1996-2000 had at least one pretty good pick, 1997 was the only one to produce two players that finished with double-digit career WAR.

1991-1996 Rookie of the Year
1995 Marty Cordova 3.0 6.4 Hideo Nomo 4.5 50.6
1994  Bob Hamelin 2.5 2.4 Raul Mondesi  2.2 27.2
1993  Tim Salmon 5.2 37.6  Mike Piazza 7.0 59.1 
1992 Pat Listach  4.5 3.9  Eric Karros 0.3 9.0
1991  Chuck Knoblauch 2.3 41.2 Jeff Bagwell 4.7 79.9

Best: WAR likes Jeff Bagwell (NL 1991), the Hall of Fame will like Mike Piazza (1993). Either way, it's tough to go wrong. Unlike the Hall of Fame voters, I'll take Bagwell over Piazza, but can see both sides of the argument. I"m in the camp that Bagwell is one of the more underrated players of his generation. 

Worst: Yet again, the award goes to a Royal. Bob Hamelin (AL 1994) had a 2.5 WAR in his rookie year and 2.4 for his career. Pat Listach (AL 1992) also has a lower career WAR (3.9) than single-season WAR for his rookie season (3.9), but the be speckled Hamelin did less in his career than Listach, even if most of Listach's value came from his rookie season.

Best duo: Again it comes down to the 1993 choices (Piazza, Tim Salmon) and 1991 (Bagwell, Chuck Knoblauch), with 1991 taking the crown. Knoblauch and Salmon both had good careers, with Knoblauch winning four rings and Salmon one. Knoblacuh was a four-time All-Star, Salmon never appeared in the game. Knoblauch also won a Gold Glove, despite his woes throwing later in his career. Going by WAR, the 1991 duo beats the 1993 pair, 121.1-96.7.

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Posted on: July 5, 2011 8:31 pm
Edited on: July 5, 2011 11:32 pm

Some All-Stars leave a mark in only appearance

Bo Jackson

By C. Trent Rosecrans

All-Star teams aren't always composed of stars. For every Mickey Mantle or George Brett or Willie Mays, there's a Mickey Morandini, Ken Brett and Joe Mays.

And then, of course, there's Bo Jackson.

While not all players who make an All-Star team have great careers or stick in our memories, it's not alwyas the Hall of Famers that leave a mark.

Jackson's baseball career was hardly ever boring, he oozed talent -- blending speed and power like few before or after. One of the greatest athletes who ever lived, Jackson was in the majors on pure athleticism alone and was just starting to show off what he could do with more baseball under his belt when he suffered a hip injury in a 1990 playoff game for the Oakland Raiders while persueing his "hobby" of dominating the NFL.

The apex of his baseball career came on July 11, 1989, in Anaheim, Calif. Jackson had 21 home runs at the All-Star break and had been voted into the game as a starter by the fans. He ended the top of the first with a running catch on Pedro Guerrero's liner, saving two runs. But it was the top of the inning that would be his defining moment.

Leading off the bottom of the first, he crushed a Rick Reuschel pitch 448 feet to center field. See the play here:

In the second he beat out a potential double play, allowing the eventual go-ahead run to score. He also stole second, advancing to third on the throw, becoming just the second player in All-Star history to homer and steal a base in the same game. The first was Mays. Jackson was named the game's Most Valuable Player.

I remember listening to the game on the radio as my dad hurried us home after one of my own All-Star games. My team had won, but I was more excited to get home to watch the guy from my other team, the Kansas City Royals. I heard the homer on the radio -- and even there you could tell just how hard it was hit by the sound and the announcer's reaction -- and even though I didn't see it live, I watched the highlights over and over. My memory as a 13-year-old was just that my team was once again the center of the baseball universe and the Royals would be carried into the next decade by the game's most exciting player. That didn't happen, but I'll always remember that homer, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Jackson's not the only player to shine in his only All-Star Game, here's a couple of names, well-known and more obscure, who played in just one All-Star Game but left a mark.

Hideo NomoHideo Nomo, 1995: With baseball reeling from the strike that canceled the World Series the year before, a Japanese import brought a mania back to the game as the Dodgers' Hideo Nomo created a frenzy not only in the United States, but in Japan, as well. Japanese fans got up early in what was there Wednesday morning to watch their new favorite son strike out three batters in two innings. Heathcliff Slocumb, in his only All-Star appearance, would get the win, but Nomo was the reason people were watching to begin with.

Bill Caudill, 1984: The right-handed reliever had 36 saves for the A's in 1984 and struck out nearly a batter an inning. His lone All-Star appearance was one to remember, striking out all three batters he faced, Tim Raines, Ryne Sandberg and Keith Hernandez in the eighth inning.

Max West, 1940: Just 23, West started in right field for the National League in 1940 as a representative of the Boston Braves, coming off a carer-high 19-homer season in 1939. After the first two batters of the 1940 game at Sportsmen's Park in St. Louis reached off of starter Red Ruffin, West homered to center, leading the team to a 4-0 victory. It would be West's only All-Star at-bat of his career. He missed three seasons due to his service in World War II and played in just two more seasons after the war, never duplicating his pre-war success.

Every great All-Star moment, has another side -- even the Harlem Globetrotters need their Washington Generals. Many players make just one All-Star appearance and not all of their marks are positive. Sometimes a player's lone All-Star Game is something to forget.

Here's a couple of those:

Chan-Ho Park, 2001: The 2001 All-Star Game in Seattle was all about the retiring Cal Ripken Jr., anyway, but in the third inning the Korean right-hander grooved a fastball down the heart of the plate and Ripken put it into the bullpen, making him the oldest player to ever hit a homer in the All-Star Game.

Brian Downing, 1979: Downing played 20 seasons and had 2,099 hits and 275 home runs, but made just one All-Star team, in 1979. In his lone All-Star plate appearance, Downing singled off of Bruce Sutter to lead off the eight in a tie game. After a sacrifice bunt, an intentional walk and a strikeout, Downing tried to score on a single to right by Graig Nettles. Had just about anyone else been in right field, Downing scores and is in line to be the game's hero. However, it was the Cobra, Dave Parker, in right. Just watch the video:

Dock Ellis, 1971: Ellis is best-known for the no-hitter he threw while on LSD, but was good enough to win 138 games in parts of 12 seasons and finish his career with a 3.46 ERA. He made his only All-Star team in 1971 and started the game for the National League at Tiger Stadium. With a 3-0 lead in the third and a runner on first, Ellis faced pinch hitter Reggie Jackson.

After Jackson's homer, Ellis gave up another two-run homer in the inning to Frank Robinson, finishing as the game's loser.

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Posted on: February 24, 2011 4:06 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2011 5:13 pm

R.I.P. Dontrelle's leg kick

Dontrelle Willis

Dontrelle Willis had one of the most distinctive pitching motions in baseball, one that was long-credited with his success, but no more.

John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweeted today from Willis' live-BP session and said his "high leg kick is gone."

With Willis' recent struggles, it seems like it's time to try something.

Once one of baseball's great ambassadors, Willis and his funky pitching motion burst onto the scene in 2003, winning 14 games as a rookie and appearing in the All-Star game. Two years later he won 22 games and finished second in the Cy Young Award voting.

In his first four seasons, Willis was 58-39 with a 3.44 ERA; the last four seasons, he's gone 13-24 with a 5.81 ERA. 

Fay reported positive results from Willis' round of BP (yeah, we know, way too early to draw any conclusions), but yet it made me sad for one of my favorite windups.

Other great ones:

Tim Lincecum -- a don't try this at home for kids, but when it looks this cool (and the results are like this), it's tough not to try it.

Tim Lincecum

Orlando Hernandez -- a similar high leg kick as Willis, but his hands are low instead of high and he would look backwards, like Luis Tiant. Add to that an arm slot as predictable as Lost, well, it's always fun to see what El Duque had on tap.

Orlando Hernandez

Hideo Nomo -- loved the throw-back with the hands high over his head motion.

Hideo Nomo

Of course, further back you have great ones in Dan Quisenberry, Luis Tiant, Fernando Valenzuela, Bob Feller and Juan Marichal. 

UPDATE: Fay followed up on his tweet, talking to Reds pitching coach Bryan Price about the lack of leg kick.
“That was pretty much gone when I started working with him,” Price said. “He had been working on that in Detroit. He wasn’t a reclamation project. We just really working on tightening things up.”
-- C. Trent Rosecrans
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. 
Posted on: October 1, 2010 11:52 pm

Park sets record for Asian pitchers

Chan Ho Park's 124th career victory on Friday made him the winningest Asian-born pitcher in Major League history.

"It's very special," Park told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 's Rob Biertempfel . "It makes me think about 17 years ago when I first came here. I think about the people who brought me here and who helped me."

Park three three scoreless innings of relief for the Pirates against the Marlins on Friday, striking out six of the nine batters he faced.

Chan Ho Park The Pirates are Park's eight team in the big leagues after being singed as a free agent by the Dodgers in 1994 when he was 21.

His first eight years were spent with the Dodgers, going 80-54 with a 3.80 ERA in his first stint with the team. He earned an All-Star nod in 2001. He signed a five-year, $65 million contract with the Rangers before the 2002 season.

In four seasons with the Rangers, Park underperformed, going 22-23 with a 5.79 ERA. After two years with the Padres, he signed with the Mets in 2007. There, he spent much of the season in the minor leagues, making one start for the Mets before he was designated for assignment in June. He signed a minor-league deal with the Astros, but never made it to Houston.

After re-signing with the Dodgers in 2008, Park reinvented himself as a reliever, where the shorter outings allowed him to use his mid-90s fastball more, instead of trying to conserve his energy during starts.

Last season he pitched well out of the bullpen for the Phillies and signed a one-year contract with the Yankees. After going 2-1 with a 5.60 ERA in 27 appearances for the Yankees, he was designated for assignment and claimed off waivers by the Pirates.

Another former Dodgers, Hideo Nomo, had held the record for most wins by an Asian-born pitcher. After Park's record-setting outing, teammates celebrated with a beer shower as he walked into the clubhouse.

"[John Russell] told me he'll give me the lineup card," Park said. "I've got the ball. Everything I used, even my socks and underwear, I'm going to keep. It's all very special."

I'd love to see how he's going to display that underwear in his house -- do you frame it? Or just put it in a drawer? If you frame it -- do you have it out, or under the pants in their natural environment?

-- C. Trent Rosecrans

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