Projecting Masahiro Tanaka

(Koji Watanabe/Getty)

(Koji Watanabe/Getty)

Now that Masahiro Tanaka is officially a Yankee, we can finally stop talking about what it will take to land him and begin to focus on how he might actually … you know … pitch next season. Novel idea, I know. Unfortunately scouting reports and NPB stats don’t tell us much about how Tanaka will handle the transition from NPB to the AL East, nevermind the cultural change and all the off-the-field stuff he’ll have to deal with. It can be overwhelming.

Most reports have indicated Tanaka will be a number two starter in the big leagues and that means … I don’t know, really. Aces are pretty easy to identify; they’re the guys who have strung together a few years of truly elite production*. Justin Verlander, Felix Hernandez, Clayton Kershaw, guys like that. You can see them a mile away. They’re in their own little world. Number twos are a little different, they’re a notch below the aces but still among the top 25-30 starters in the game. At least that’s what I think.

* That “strung together a few years” part is important in my opinion. It’s possible for a pitcher to have a random ace-like season (Esteban Loaiza!) but the true aces are the guys who do it year after year.

A few days ago Dan Szymborski (subs. req’d) ran Tanaka through his ZiPS system to come up with a projected performance over the life of the seven-year contract. Projections are not predictions, they’re just an estimation of a player’s true talent level. There’s wiggle room in each direction and that is especially true when talking about a pitcher making the transition from NPB to MLB. Here’s what the system spit out:

Masahiro Tanaka ZiPS

Let’s focus on 2014-17 since Tanaka can opt-out after the fourth year. They’re the only guaranteed years of the contract. ZiPS has Tanaka sitting in the 3.5-4.0 WAR range during those four years, averaging 3.8 WAR per seasons. Pitchers who have averaged roughly 3.8 WAR per year from 2011-12 include Kris Medlen, Jhoulys Chacin, Kyle Lohse, Zack Greinke, and Doug Fister. Those guys feel like number twos right? They were among the top 25 pitchers in baseball by WAR over the last two seasons, so they fit what we talked about a paragraph or two ago.

I suspect the general sense will be that Tanaka did not live up to expectations if he manages a 3.68 ERA and 3.8 WAR next season, but I think that would actually be pretty awesome in his first year stateside. ZiPS projected Yu Darvish for a 3.62 ERA and 4.5 WAR two years ago, a bit better than his actual 3.90 ERA and 3.9 WAR. The system was in the ballpark, at least. If Tanaka finishes with, say, a 4.00 ERA and 3.0 WAR in 2014, it would still be pretty good but I think most would say he failed to meet expectations, fair or not.

The projections shouldn’t be taken to heart, obviously. It is an objective measure based on historical data though, and that’s better than guessing, which is what we’d be doing otherwise. If Tanaka lives up to the projections and gives the team something close to 4.0 WAR during the first four years of his contract, he’ll have more than lived up to the contract. If he settles in as a 3.0 WAR pitcher instead, that’ll be fine too. Maybe not what we all expected but not bad by any means.

Categories : Analysis


  1. Sal From NY says:

    Nice website, one of my favorite reads, but this projection stuff, you boys have too much time on your hands

    • The Return of Alvaro Espinoza? says:

      Please put down the keyboard and step away from ever commenting until you learn to read.

    • jjyank says:

      Erm, what? Mike didn’t do the projections, he just wrote a post about an existing system.

    • Hearn says:

      I’m sorry people, but Sal is 100% correct. These “stats” are absurd. How can anyone within any feasibility project his 2018 WAR and more ridiculous, his innings pitched???

      • hogsmog says:

        The same way I can ‘project’ how much snow will fall in St Louis and Tampa from 2014-2018. Do I actually think this is how much snow will fall? Of course not. But would this study give me a good estimate of which city is “generally snowier”? Perhaps so.

        Of course something weird could happen, like blizzards or a heat waves or something else entirely. The same is true for these baseball projections, which to me say “We can probably count on Tanaka to be a solid pitcher for at least a few years” with a modicum of quantitative evidence, which is nice. The specifics don’t really matter.

  2. your mom says:

    Everyone should just expect him to be another Irabu, that way any production will be good.

  3. Pinkie Pie says:

    Is there a particular reason for the drastic drop off in projected innings pitched for the final years in his contract?

  4. Kenny says:

    Wearing #19…looks a lot like Chris Stewart.

  5. Dalek Jeter says:

    Anywhere from a 4-3.68 ERA and 3-3.8 wins for someone who is essentially a rookie, completely changing his throwing program, and assimilating to a new culture? Sure he’s making a lot of money, but sign me up right now for that!

    • Dalek Jeter says:

      Also, just looked on fangraphs, if he had put up between 3 and 3.8 fWAR in 2013 he would have been anywhere between the 23rd and 41st best starter in baseball. On the high end he would be grouped in with guys like our very own Kuroda, Madison Bumgarner of the Giants, and Patrick Corbin of the D’Backs. If he was closer to 3WAR h’d be grouped in with guys like Hyun-Jin Ryu of the Dodgers, as well as Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg of the Nationals.

      • The Return of Alvaro Espinoza? says:

        Those guys didn’t command $175M to sign. You could have two from that list for that same price.

        • Kvothe says:

          Come on now, none of those guys were true free agents at the age of 25.

          • The Return of Alvaro Espinoza? says:

            Some of those guys aren’t even 25 yet.

            Gio was one year away and signed for 5/42.

            Hell, Greinke – with a 10 WAR season to his name – got 6/159. Why didn’t the Yanks sign him?

            • Dalek Jeter says:

              Greinke was also 29 when he signed. Don’t get me wrong, I was a huge supporter of signing Greinke when he was a free agent. He’s a very, very good pitcher, but he’s costing more per season, and was older when he signed.

              • The Return of Alvaro Espinoza? says:

                With a 10 WAR season to his name. And a 5 WAR season after that.

                Tanaka will likely never do either.

                • jjyank says:

                  Greinke also had some personality concerns, if I recall correctly. May or may not be completely unfounded, but the Yankees evaluation of him may not have seen sustained success in New York. Or maybe Greinke didn’t want to come here either. It’s a two way street.

                  Are we really going to go down the rabbit hole of “why didn’t they sign this guy years ago?” argument? Give it a rest.

                  • The Return of Alvaro Espinoza? says:

                    No he had a medical condition. And he showed he put that behind him with 15 WAR over two seasons.

                    Give it a rest? They just signed Tanaka to the fifth largest contract ever for a starter – when they have no bullpen, a weak bench, a really bad infield, and a shallow rotation.

                    • jjyank says:

                      Yes, give it a rest. They didn’t sign Greinke. It’s in the past, and not even the recent past.

                      If you want to be Mr. Pessimistic, then good on you. I prefer to not look at the worst outcome possible in life.

                    • The Return of Alvaro Espinoza? says:

                      Greinke – I could care less. This started because Dalek was making lame, cherry-picked, comps.

                      And I’m realistic. This team is likely to win more games than last year. But the gaps are still huge for a team that just spent $500M this off-season. That’s stoopid. They could have spent that money much more wisely.

                    • Macho Man "Randy Levine" says:

                      Oh here we go with this shit again.

                      How could they have spent the money better? Please provide a complete, detailed plan or just shut up.

                    • Havok9120 says:

                      Do tell how you would have spent the money better. If you’re gonna make the pronouncement, then back it up.

                  • The Return of Alvaro Espinoza? says:

                    I did, bimbo.

                    Ubaldo+Santana+Drew+Balfour = 8-10 WAR in 2014; same cost as Tanaka twice as valuable.

                    And that’s not even looking at Beltran+Ellsbury being dumb in the context of letting Cano walk and signing Roberts. Beltran and Ellsbury are more expensive than Cano and less valuable. Roberts doesn’t make up the difference.

            • Mike Axisa says:

              Gio was four years away from free agency. I know, facts suck.

        • Dalek Jeter says:

          If Madison Bumgarner or Stephen Strasburg hit the market tomorrow I’d bet every penny to my name, all of my personal belongings, my left hand, and my testicles they’d get at least the same deal Tanaka got, if not more.

          • The Return of Alvaro Espinoza? says:

            Then you would be a poor, one-handed eunuch.

            Bumgarner has had major velo concerns and with only one very good, not excellent season to his name. Strasburg has never thrown 200 innings and also with injury concerns.

            • jjyank says:

              Are we talking about the same Madison Bumgarner? Maybe you should look at his stats again.

              2010: 111 IP, 3.00 ERA, 3.85 xFIP
              2011: 204.2 IP, 3.21 ERA, 3.10 xFIP
              2012: 208.1 IP, 3.37 ERA, 3.45 xFIP
              2013: 201.1 IP, 2.77 ERA, 3.32 xFIP

              He’s young, good for 200+ innings, he strikes guys out (career 8.29 K/9), he limits walks (career 2.28 BB/9) and he prevents runs. Go ahead, put that guy on the open market and tell me he’s not getting 7/155.

              • The Return of Alvaro Espinoza? says:

                He’s not getting paid as the fifth highest in MLB history, no. I doubt he even gets Matt Cain money – 6/127. Cain has been better.

                • jjyank says:

                  Has he been? Bumgarner was much better in 2013, and has historically struck more guys out and walked less than Cain. Bumgarner is also 5 years younger than Cain, and I promise you someone would offer 7/155 or something extremely close to it if he were to be a true free agent right now.

                  He’s had 3-4 ace caliber season, and he’s only 24 years old. He would absolutely get paid.

                  • The Return of Alvaro Espinoza? says:

                    Nope, not as the fifth highest paid in the game. You are also forgetting his velo concerns.

                    One year samples are lame.

                    • jjyank says:

                      What one year sample? I listed 4 (four!) seasons. And his velo concerns must be oh-so terrifying considering he had his best season yet at age 23/24 just this past year.

                      Who pissed in your cereal this morning?

                    • The Return of Alvaro Espinoza? says:

                      You said Bumgarner was better in 2013 to justify Cain dollars. And 2012? And 2011? And 2010?

                    • jjyank says:

                      Matt Cain also wasn’t a true free agent and he’s 5 years older than Bumgarner.

                    • The Return of Alvaro Espinoza? says:

                      So? Cain was one year away – he as an impending free agent. And I don’t care how good a prospect is – and Tanaka is an excellent prospect, but a prospect still – they don’t deserve 10 figures. That’s a recipe for a huge mistake. 70% of prospects fail.

                    • Mr. Roth says:

                      “And I don’t care how good a prospect is – and Tanaka is an excellent prospect, but a prospect still – they don’t deserve 10 figures.”

                      They deserve exactly what their market dictates. Now pipe the fuck down.

                    • Havok9120 says:

                      You’re completely ignoring the massive influx of new money into the MLB. The league-wide media deal alone is going to completely change FA valuations, and that doesn’t even account for the regional TV deals being signed throughout the game.

                    • Cool Lester Smooth says:

                      Now I’ve just decided that you’re fucking stupid, and am going to stop reading threads you pop up in.

                      If you’re going to go full Ted, you at least have to have some idea of what you’re talking about.

            • qwerty says:

              Bumgarner is at the same velocity every year. Did you just make that up?

        • The Return of Alvaro Espinoza? says:

          Plus, doing this exercise for one year is very selective. Gio, for instance, posted 4 WAR for the three years prior.

        • jjyank says:

          So? Are any of them free agents? Are any of them even available in trades?

          I don’t get the point you’re trying to make. The Yankees didn’t get a hold of Corbin, Gio, Strasburg, or Bumgarner? Oh well, might as well not sign Tanaka, because it doesn’t count if he’s more expensive?

          • The Return of Alvaro Espinoza? says:

            The Yankees spending wildly on “names” then screw up the margins. They need more than one starter, an infield, a bullpen and a bench.

            They would have done better with Ubaldo AND Ervin Santana plus Drew and Balfour. Those four alone are probably worth 10 WAR in 2014.

            • jjyank says:

              So why is your plan a sure thing? How do you know which Ubaldo and which Ervin Santana you’d be buying?

              Also, they can still sign Drew, you know. He’s still a free agent.

              • The Return of Alvaro Espinoza? says:

                It’s called risk mitigation. Ubaldo and Ervin could both be 3-4 WAR players and they won’t cost even half what Tanaka cost.

                I’ll believe it when I see it on Drew.

                What about the bullpen? And bench?

                • jjyank says:

                  You’re just determined to look at things in the worst possible way. Not really much room for discussion here.

                  • The Return of Alvaro Espinoza? says:

                    Are you a homer? Worst possible way?

                    They have three, maybe four, platoon guys in the infield. Their SS is 40 years old.

                    Their setup guy was replacement level last year.

                    Their bench has not one bat.

                    Their rotation has two guys will decline concerns, a rookie from overseas, a young guy with questions, and a competition.

                    Sure, whatever. They’re awesome! Tanaka and CC and, hell, even Kuroda will win 20 games. Jeter will hit .350 with amazing defense. And Teixeira, well he’ll finally hit 40 homers as a Yankee.

                    • jjyank says:

                      Well I never said they were awesome. But you did prove my point that you’re not worth conversing with.

                    • The Return of Alvaro Espinoza? says:

                      Ha, of course you have no retort to reality. Sucks, doesn’t it? $500M spent and I got was a third place team.

                    • jjyank says:

                      No, I just don’t believe you can have an intelligent conversation and aren’t worth anybody’s time here.

                      Hence the O:S.

                    • The Return of Alvaro Espinoza? says:

                      Ha, an intelligent conversation with someone who can’t be honest with themselves about the state of this team? Have fun with that. I’m sure you’ll find many like brethren over at LoHud or on the YES boards.

                      Teh Yankeez! Teh Best!

                    • Dalek Jeter says:

                      Yeah, cause JJ totally said this team has no holes and is 100 win team *ctrl+f* Oh look he didn’t say that once! Crap it looks like all he said is that the odds that every single member of this team living up their worst possible expectations at the same time over the course of the entire season are just as low as them all living up to best possible expectations and that while the team might have holes there is still plenty to be excited about and if some breaks go our way maybe we make the playoffs. But why be optimistic about anything ever when it comes to the Yankees, right? Cashman failed, Girardi’s a bum, Feces Sabathia sucks, Derek Jeter’s old, Kuroda’s old, our bullpen is gonna be crap. God isn’t being a fan of a team great?

                    • Havok9120 says:

                      You’re pulling strawmen out of his arguments now. Embellishing what he actually said so that you can try to make him sound the fool does not actually improve your argument.

            • greenebean says:

              Ervin Santana? Really? You think Ervin Santana would be a good fit in Yankee Stadium? Ha! The most hitter friendly park in the game, paired with the most homerun prone pitcher in the game…… I’ll take Tanaka’s splitter all day.

          • Smack Down says:

            Asshole JJ-Jerkoff is baaaaack, I see.

            God dude take a pill.

  6. Geno says:

    For me, Pettite is the quintessential #2 – dependable year after year, ace-like for stretches, someone who you can run out against the best teams in the playoffs and stand a good chance of winning. If we got a #2, that’s a huge piece that sets up the team nicely going forward.

    • Dalek Jeter says:

      *Head Desks*

    • W.B. Mason Williams says:

      We all love Andy, but he was really more of a #3. He fluctuated a lot, posting 4+ or sub 3 ERAs across the years. Too inconsistent to be a real #2. #3 feels right for me.

      • JGYank says:

        I see Andy as a good #3. But both times after he retired, after 2010 and this offseason before we signed Tanaka, our rotation was really shaky on paper. Shows how much we relied on him.

      • Ed says:

        I think this is more a question of how we label pitchers than of how we’re evaluating them.

        Basically, I agree with Mike on what an ace is, but what he’s calling a #2 I would call a #1. What you’re calling a #3 I call a #2.

        To me, this definition fits the way people talk better than Mike’s definition, and I think it’s a more useful way of looking at things considering we’re looking at 30 teams trying to fill 5 rotation spots.

      • RetroRob says:

        His career ERA+, for quick evaluation, was 117, which is borderline HOF territory. I have him short of the HOF, but when a player is in the borderline territory he’s obviously quite good.

        He was never an elite pitcher, but spent his career as a solid #2 and #3. From an entire career perspective, he easily rates as a #2.

        People confuse elite pitchers as the only #1s. That’s not the case. At any given time, there are only a handful of elite pitchers in the game (i.e. Kershaw), but there is a level down from those who are also #1s. Then there is the step down to the #2s. For his career, that was Pettitte.

        The grading system many fans have for these things don’t match with reality.

      • Cool Lester Smooth says:

        Sickels agreed with me when I called him a quintessential No. 2.

        SO THERE!

        In all seriousness, though, he was good for 3-5 WAR every year, for 20 years. That’s a No. 2.

        • RetroRob says:

          To add to that, last year Doug Fister had a 4.6 WAR, which was good for 12th in MLB. Considering there are 30 teams and Fister had the 12th best WAR, it highlights just how rare what most people consider a #1 really is. Fister is considered a strong #2 by most evaluators.

          Pettitte spent his career producing 3.0-5.0 WAR seasons, hitting as high as 7.2. Even at the age of 41 and past his prime last year, he still put up a 3.2 WAR season, with about the only seasons he didn’t produce at least a 3.0 WAR caused by injuries. He has nine seasons of 3.9 or better.

          You’re right. He is the quintessential #2 starter from his career perspective.

          • RetroRob says:

            …and btw, I just have to add. What the hell were the Tigers thinking of when they traded away Fister?!

            Can you imagine if the Yankees traded away Pettitte when he was 29 for the bucket of slop the Tigers got?

  7. Eselquetodolosabe says:

    Random thought; will MLB and The NPBL closely monitor any movement of money between Tanaka and Rakuten ? Or have they used their extra wide custodial broom, and swept the issue under the rug…, hoping no one ever brings it back up ? Curious after-thought.

  8. Tim says:

    What was Pineda projected to be when he was traded to the Yankees for Montero? Especially after the first half of the previous season?

    I’ll take that projection for Tanaka. And if Pineda comes close to that in 2014, the Yankees would be very happy campers.

    • Dalek Jeter says:

      I’m rooting hard for Pineda to win the 5th starter competition out of spring training, but realistically…anything we ever get from Pineda in his entire tenure with the Yankees has to be looked upon as gravy at this point IMO.

      • qwerty says:

        He pitched 40 innings last season, and then ended it with shoulder issues. is that really someone you want to rely on for the 5th spot? Pineda is done.

        • Dalek Jeter says:

          I’m not saying to just give it to him, only if he earns it.

        • Cool Lester Smooth says:

          Have you read anything about Pineda in the past 4 months?

          He didn’t “end it with shoulder issues.” Cashman shut him down because he had reached his innings limit.

  9. W.B. Mason Williams says:

    Probably good estimations of his raw ability.

    I think with his mindset, the Yankees’ coaching and adjustments he’ll put up sub 3.5 ERAs for most years, with one year brushing up against a sub 3.0

    But what do I know?

  10. The Return of Alvaro Espinoza? says:

    Ooof, if those are his projections then they just overpaid, a lot. Dan Haren at his peak was not a 3-4 WAR pitcher. He was a 6 WAR pitcher.

    The other problem is what happens we’ve seen when pitchers fail to live up to expectations (Burnett, Pavano). They get hurt. Add to that the injury risk of pitching every five days, and this is a recipe for a disaster contract.

    I’d much rather have a Garza AND Ubaldo right now with another $50M in the bank. With both, 6 WAR each year would be in the cards.

    This team still isn’t a post-season contender. So what was the point?

    • Dalek Jeter says:

      Really? If they were to replace Overbay with Teixeira, Ichiro with Ellsbury, Vernon Wells with Beltran, Jayson Nix with Jeter, and Phil Hughes with Lance Lynn this past season you don’t think the 2013 Yankees would not have made the playoffs?

      • Mike says:

        Wow, we signed Lance Lynn.

        • Dalek Jeter says:

          Haha, sorry, I meant to say: Lynn was the best approximation of Tanaka’s projection that I could find in terms of both IP and fWAR.

      • The Return of Alvaro Espinoza? says:

        And Cano with Roberts? And Robertson with Shawn Kelly? And Jeter with a 40 yo Jeter? And A-Rod with Kelly Johnson? And Pettitte with ??? And Mo with Robertson?

        Nope, still a 88 win team and behind the Rays, Indians, and Rangers.

        • jjyank says:

          If you went back in time a year ago and showed us a line up card from a mid July game with all the scrubs we had, and also told us CC would have his worst season ever, how many people would have predicted 85 wins and playing meaningful games into September?

          Probably nobody, and I know you wouldn’t have. The point is, let’s play the games instead of “Nope, still a 88 win team and behind the Rays, Indians, and Rangers.” That’s an idiotic way of being a fan, in my opinion.

          • The Return of Alvaro Espinoza? says:

            Go nuts. Buy season tickets, parking, all the foam fingers and t-shirts you want, buy the Season Pass, the app.

            I’m not spending one cent on a team this dumb.

            P.s. They were a 77 win team last year that got lucky.

            • Dalek Jeter says:

              Okay, bye bye, we’ll miss you. Also, by using this website you’re making the Yankees money, so you better stop because god forbid they get money when not doing exactly what you think is the right move!

            • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

              Hey look, guys! Screen name we’ve never seen before decides to go nuts on a thread insulting everyone while, suddenly, the screen name doing this yesterday is gone! Crazy, isn’t it?!

              We need a shorthand for this.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      Weeding you out would be much more difficult it you didn’t make the same inane arguments with each new handle.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner says:

        Mike, I think we’d all love it if you told us what this person’s other handles were.

        Let me take a stab at it. Big John Stud, whatever the Freddy Sez $300 Mil thing was, etc.

    • Mike Axisa says:

      With both, 6 WAR each year would be in the cards.

      2013: 4.1 WAR combined
      2012: 0.6 WAR combined
      2011: 1.9 WAR combined

      So that’s 6.6 WAR between the two of them over the last three years combined. But sure, that duo is 6 WAR in the cards in 2014!

    • Havok9120 says:

      Even if you want to assume that, why does a revamp of the team have to be completely accomplished in a single offseason. You think this isn’t a better core to have going into the next couple offseasons?

    • Cool Lester Smooth says:

      You can’t look at the WAR totals. The projections are clearly inaccurate with regards to his playing time.

  11. Matt DiBari says:

    You know, I understand last year was real bad and we don’t know if its a sign going forward, but I don’t think it completely removes CC Sabathia from being an ace. Sometimes great pitchers have lousy years. Verlander did in 08. I’m just not entirely prepared to give up on him as a top flight guy

    • Kvothe says:

      Sure, don’t give up on the idea of CC as an ace, but don’t expect it either.

    • JGYank says:

      The rotation doing well this year largely depends on CC rebounding and Tanaka adjusting well. I think CC can still be close to an ace but he really could be anywhere from a borderline #1 to a #4 starter. Who knows what we’ll get. Good to see him in shape though and hope he rebounds.

  12. Mike says:

    If Daisuke can get near a 4 WAR in his first year then it’s a virtual lock that Tanaka can duplicate or exceed that. Tanaka is a superior pitcher by all accounts.

    • The Return of Alvaro Espinoza? says:

      But does he have a gyroball?


    • TCMiller30 says:

      Dice-K was a hugely hyped Japanese pitcher.. I don’t think any Japanese pitchers have been touted as highly as him and Darvish were. Sure, we know now that Dice-K didn’t really pan out, but to have higher expectations that people did for Dice-K sounds a little crazy.

    • qwerty says:

      If Tanaka has a xfip of 4.17, and a 4.40 ERA then the contract looks like a massive disaster.

      • I'm One says:

        But the contract has 4 guaranteed years. I’ll be somewhat concerned after year one, but I’ll evaluate it after 4 (or 7).

  13. Tim says:

    Remember that Sports Illustrated cover taken before the 2003 season, a few years ago where they had a picture of George Steinbrenner and the 5 Yankees starters and the caption said “Got enought pitching”? and the article mentioned something about having a whole rotation of #1 starters? Clemens, Wells, Pettitte, Mussina, Contreras and Jeff Weaver. (Contreras was supposed to be this year’s Tanaka).That was the year they got beat by the Marlins in the WS. (You never know). Clemens had a 4.1 WAR, Jose Contreras (1st season) had a 1.9 WAR, Mussina, 6.6 WAR, Pettitte, 3.1 WAR, Wells 4.3 WAR, and Weaver: -0.2 WAR

    What a great pitching staff, plus a 4.1 WAR for Mariano Rivera.

    Plus hitting WAR’s that year: Posada 5.9 WAR (would love to see that from McCann, Giambi: 4.8 WAR and Alfonso Soriano 5.4 WAR

    • The Return of Alvaro Espinoza? says:

      Well, don’t forget Torre decided to use Weaver in relief before Mo. They lost that series because their manager was replacement level.

  14. Kosmo says:

    I project Tanaka will be the first Japanese import to win 20 games in the bigs.

  15. JGYank says:

    I think the projection is pretty accurate but I think he can pitch more innings than the projection has him doing epsecially because his innings drop off after this year in the projection. So the projection is saying he can accumulate 3-4 WAR with 140-185 IP, but what if he can reach 200+ IP? I think it’s reasonable to expect 190+ out of him if he’s healthy all year and he makes all of his starts. The ERA seems right, although maybe it will be a little higher from pitching in YS. But I would be happy to get 3+ WAR out of him.

  16. Tim says:

    Mussina had 6.6 WAR, and didn’t throw 95-98 mph. Wow. How is he not in the HOF?

    • The Return of Alvaro Espinoza? says:

      Because the writers are morons who don’t try to understand the game. Some of the commenters here would be well-qualified for the BWAA.

      • Joseph says:

        Alvaro(at least for today), After scanning quickly through your comments from earlier, for you to insinuate that you understand the game and nobody else does is hilarious. The Yankees have done a great job improving their team this offseason, all things considered. Obviously, we have no way of knowing how things will workout, but I’m sure at least some of Cashman’s moves will be successful. For you to bad mouth every single thing NY has done is just an indicator of your dislike for the Yankees, your desire to throw a bucket of water on the Yankee’s sizzling hot stove season, (I’ve loved it), and most likely, your frustration with the sorry state of the dreary miserable offseason of the team that you really root for.

  17. Tim says:

    I’d take a LH version of Wells for Tanaka, consistent 4+ WAR.

  18. Tim says:

    RH version of Wells sorry

  19. Deuces Wild says:

    My projections for Tanaka: 17-7 2.90 ERA 190 k .. Dude is a legit ace

  20. Tim says:

    People who want to say Pettitte was a 3, he won every series final during the 2009 playoff run and WS win for the Yankees that year. He won game 3 and game 6 of the 2009 WS, Won Game 6 of the ALCS that season against the LA Angels, and won Game 3 of the Division Series against the Twins. Helluva #3.

  21. TWTR says:

    OT, but about starting pitching. Rotoworld has a note that Jimenez may be willing to do a one year deal with Cleveland since multi-year offers aren’t being made. The Yankees should make him an offer for a one year deal.

  22. MaKun Migraines says:

    What’s with the incremental drop off in projected innings pitched? Is MLB planning to shorten the season by 10 games each year starting in 2016?

  23. RetroRob says:

    All fun stuff, but I’m not putting much into any projections considering where he’s coming from, differences in the baseballs, work schedule, etc.

    His splitter is plus-plus in Japan. What happens if it doesn’t translate to the different balls? He might be toast and a sunk cost from day one. Or, the splitter translates well, his control remains top notch, and he becomes more than a #2 but a true ace. The truth is probably somewhere between, but all outcomes now are possible.

    • vicki says:

      not that it has any great meaning, but i remember reading that he often threw bullpens with an mlb ball.

      • RetroRob says:

        Yes, I read that too. Despite my note pointing out he could totally fail, I’m pretty confident he will do well. He’s had great success and he seems pretty driven and confident. There will be some adjustment so he may not hit his full stride in year one, but I think he’ll be a good one, health willing.

  24. Farewell Mo says:

    Did someone above really say Bumgartner and Strasburg wouldn’t get the money Tanaka got if they were free agents?

    Sounds like crazy talk to me.

  25. The Raul Mondesi Era says:

    Everyone keeps saying it’s the 5th largest pitcher contract ever but would that change when inflation is factored in? It would still be a huge contract but not the 5th highest ever probably. I guarantee in the next 3-4 years we’ll see another 4-5 contracts bigger for pitchers. There’s just so much more revenue in the game now with the tv contracts.

    • CashmanNinja says:

      Plus, as mentioned, so many people seem to be bypassing the fact that Tanaka was simply a unique case. How many 25 year olds hit the market? It isn’t like a minor league player with no experience. He pitched in Japan and like it or not it’s still better competition than our minor league system presents. How much media attention do the minor league playoffs get? Tanaka pitched in the Japan series. The Japanese equivalent of the World Series. It’s a ton of pressure and it’s a NATIONAL thing. Baseball is huge in Japan and the stress and pressure in that situation is nothing that could be gained by being in the minors here.

      And like stated…how many 25 year olds hit the free agent market? Kershaw didn’t hit the market. Verlander signed an extension. Pitchers simply do not hit the market until they’re already coming out of their prime. Guys like Johan Santana and Zach Greinke didn’t hit the free agent market til they were nearly 30. David Price is going to be around the same age when he hits the market (he’s what, 28 now?). The fact of the matter is…how many young guys hit the market? None. VERY rarely does a legit arm make it to the market at such a young age. Teams either go the arbitration route or sign them to team friendly extensions. Imagine of Strasburg were to hit the market right now. Madison Bumgarner signed an extension for 5/$35 mil. Think about that for a second. Let that sink in. Now imagine if he were able to talk with every team out there. I’m pretty sure other teams would pay more than that for him. Teams (not just the Yankees) paid $20 mil just to TALK with Tanaka. Bumgarner could easily get $175-200 mil on the open market. Hell, Kershaw could have probably gotten more money if he had hit the open market as well. So for those saying the Yankees overpaid for a guy who has “no experience” … well this is one of those situations where you have to take a risk because the reward is way too good to pass up.

    • RetroRob says:

      Oh, easily. Kershaw is the best pitcher in the game so he has now set the bar at over $30MM per season, but all that means is #2-level pitchers are all going to get in the $22MM per range. #1 type pitchers, but those viewed a little short of Kershaw might be getting in the $26-28MM range.

      I started watching baseball right as the free-agent era began, and since that time the media and fans always blow a gasket when a new big contract is signed, claiming this is the end, the ruin of all baseball. Yup, that’s what was said when Catfish Hunter signed the first big free-agent contract (although technically he was not a traditional free agent but instead had his contract voided because of technicality). Hunter’s AAV was $650K, which is roughly $2.5MM in today’s dollars. Five years later Nolan Ryan signed the first contract that paid an AAV of $1MM a year. The media screamed then, too.

      MLB salaries continue to rise faster than inflation, MLB draws more fans than it ever did back in the 70s, teams make more money than they ever did, and the valuation of teams are at an all-time high.

      The end never came and it’s nowhere in sight.

  26. Jorge Steinbrenner says:

    My expectations are lower for 2014. I still expect him to perform pretty close to that projection.

    The team overpaid. It was the perfect storm of a lot of things and, at 25, you are clearly thinking an upside that exceeds the ZIPS projections. I don’t have a problem with them overpaying. However, if the ZIPS projection wound up actually projecting reality, would I be disappointed? Hate to admit it, but yes.

    We all wanted them to play this game. They played it and won. The stakes with Tanaka are high, and we’d best be prepared to deal with whatever may come here.

  27. Joseph says:

    All indications are that Tanaka is a balls to the wall competitor and has a bulldog mentality on the mound. He apparently likes the big stage and the bigger challenge. Well…uh..he’s got that. I’m hoping these intangibles along with his talented arm will translate into better than predicted results.

  28. Improbable Island's Dirty Midget Whores (formerly RRR) says:

    I would be fucking THRILLED with a 4.6 to 4.8 ERA.

  29. Nathan says:

    Let’s not expect him to be Darvish-esque his first season. Darvish numbers are good his first season and they got even better last season. I’d expect the same from Tanaka.

  30. Tom says:

    Two things:

    1) Don’t confuse projections with predictions. Projections represent an aggregate outcome, not necessarily a probable one.

    2) All pitchers get hurt. A lot. I know it’s a cliche, but I still think a lot of folks don’t understand the extent of it. While some may think no way with the innings, I think most pitchers would have a similar decline. I don’t know the inner workings of ZIPS, but I imagine without an MLB track record that # may be further suppressed. There is certainly an age component to it, but part of that decline is basically the law of averages catching up to ANY pitcher over time. And since you can’t project discrete injuries in any given year, it is an average – and the more years you pitch the greater the likelihood (which is why it goes down each year)

    Out of curiosity, I looked up what MLB did last year
    - 36 pitchers threw 200 innings last year; basically a little more than 1 starter per team.
    - 64 pitchers threw 180+ innings last year (~2 per team)
    - 82 pitchers threw 160+ innings (less than 3 per team on avg)

    You can also see a trend in the the multiyear aggregates
    - ZIPS has Tanaka at a little over 540 innings over the next 3 years. The # of pitchers who have thrown 540 innings over the previous 3 years? 43
    - Over 4 years it is ~690 innings. The # of pitchers that achieved that in the last 4: 42
    - Over 5 years it is ~830 innings. That # who did that: 42

    I can’t speak to the performance #’s, but the innings projections appear to be perfectly reasonable.

  31. Get Phelps Up says:

    Phew, I was worried there may have actually been 137 comments inelegantly analyzing and debating how Tanaka’s MLB career would play out.

  32. Adam says:

    I would be really interested to know what were the Zips projections for Darvish before he threw an MLB pitch versus now that he has established himself as a very above average pitcher. I wonder if the back end of the projections are a little higher than originally stated as he now has two seasons under his belt.

  33. Cashman has no clothes says:

    I’m really worried about this contract. Burnett seemed more like a sure thing and look how that turned out.

  34. The Other Mister D says:

    There are 30 teams in MLB, each with a number 1 starter. OK, maybe not each official number 1 starter is a true number 1, but there are also enough teams with more than one viable number 1, so I think its not unfair to say there are at least 20-25 number 1s, which to me says that number 2′s are more like the 25th-60th best starters in baseball. Which isn’t bad, given that with 5 man rotations there are 150 starters at any one time, and nearly double that number of starters over the course of a season.

  35. Cool Lester Smooth says:

    Gotta say, the IP predictions are really wonky. That screws up the projected WAR totals. If you say he’ll average 185 innings a year (which seems conservative) the WAR total bumps up to 27.8 (3.96 a year). With 195 innings a year, it’s 29.2 (4.2 a year).

    That seems like a pretty damn reasonable expectation.

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