Scouting Masahiro Tanaka

Though he's yet to throw a pitch in the Major Leagues, the Yankees committed a massive $175MM to sign 25-year-old righty Masahiro Tanaka in January.  $20MM of that went to his old team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, with $155MM going to Tanaka.  Tanaka's contract is the third-largest ever for a pitcher in MLB history, topped only by Clayton Kershaw's new extension with the Dodgers and C.C. Sabathia's 2008 free agent deal with the Yankees.  Like those deals, Tanaka's includes an opt-out clause.

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Tanaka comes to MLB for the 2014 season after posting what many scouts refer to as "video game numbers" in Japan last year: a 24-0 record and a 1.27 ERA in 212 innings.  Last Friday, Yankees GM Brian Cashman did his best to temper expectations for Tanaka in a conversation with ESPN's Ian O'Connor.  Cashman said he expects the pitcher to have growing pains in the States, and asked his ultimate upside two or three years down the road, the GM said Tanaka "has the potential to be a really solid consistent number three starter."  Free agent salaries continue to rise, but I don't think the Yankees would spend that kind of money on a pitcher they thought might become a number three a year or two before his opt-out clause comes up. 

Unbiased opinions were needed.  To get a feel for Tanaka's repertoire and approach, injury risk, and overall ability, I spoke to high-ranking officials with scouting-related positions for four MLB teams (referred to simply as "scouts" later in this article).  Each has seen the pitcher in person extensively, and none work for the Yankees.

Before we begin, here is a refresher on the 20-80 (or 2-8) scouting scale from Kevin Goldstein, formerly of Baseball Prospectus: "A score of 50 is major-league average, 60 is above-average (also referred to as "plus"), and 70 is among the best ("plus-plus"). 80 is top of the charts, and not a score that gets thrown around liberally."  For more information on scouting pitchers from Goldstein, click here.

Scouting Report: Three Plus Pitches

Tanaka's fastball typically sits between 91-93 miles per hour, with the ability to touch 96 mph.  Most of the scouts to whom I spoke graded his fastball as a 6, or plus, though one put a 70 on the heater.  One scout praised his fastball in saying he throws a "heavy ball," though two others noted the pitch can get flat or straight at times.  One of those two said Tanaka's fastball is "probably his most hittable pitch, in a way."

Scouts agreed Tanaka has a second or third gear for his fastball.  In Japan he'd often be in "cruise control" for the first half of the game, ramping his fastball up into the mid-90s later if he needed to.  Noted one scout who loves Tanaka, "When they're in Japan, they don't have to throw their best stuff because the league's not as good."  That figures to change for Tanaka in MLB, given the deeper lineups.

Tanaka clearly had plus-plus control in Japan, with walk rates below two per nine innings in each of the last four seasons.  Scouts feel that will translate to plus in the States.  Grading Tanaka's command, one scout said "60 or 70," another went with 55, and one gave a 5.  The most pessimistic scout elaborated, "I actually thought with the offspeed stuff, the splitter and the slider especially, I thought there was more command of those pitches. And I thought with the fastball he definitely threw strikes to an above average level but I thought the command, pinpointing it, was just average."  When Tanaka does get into trouble in MLB, there's a good chance it will be the result of throwing hittable fastballs.  

Next is Tanaka's splitter, by most accounts a nasty pitch.  One scout put an 8 on it, suggesting if you don't put an 8 on this particular pitch, then you might be the type who never gives out 8s.  He explained, "It's not a tumbling pitch. It's more of a disappearing fastball. It's not a Contreras splitter that comes out and kind of flutters."  Two others put 7s on the splitter, though one dissented with a 6.  That person admitted the split "could be plus-plus," but unlike his peers, he feels Tanaka's best pitch is his slider.

The lone scout who prefers the slider explained, "I think it's a true slider with a good tilt, he would get depth to it more than ones that are plus-plus." He feels the slider has a slight lead over the splitter, noting the slider has been Tanaka's pitch since his high school days.  With the other scouts, Tanaka's slider received a 6 across the board.

It is generally agreed that Tanaka's fastball, splitter, and slider are plus pitches, and he'll get strikeouts with each.  For a change of pace, he also throws a slow curveball, described by one scout as "useful."  This pitch grades in the 45-50 range.  Tanaka's ability to throw this pitch for strikes allows him to pitch backward if he chooses.  Typically, though, Tanaka's approach is aggressive, as one scout explained: "He pitches inside, he doesn't pitch away from contact a lot. Some guys in Japan, they're not as aggressive. He has more of a Western style that he's not afraid to go up and in, he's not afraid to pitch inside. He pitches kind of with a little chip on his shoulder."

Reduced Strikeout Rate: Red Flag?

Though he posted a 1.27 ERA, Tanaka struck out only 7.8 batters per nine innings last year in Japan.  That mark was his lowest since 2010.  While one scout admitted, "It's certainly not a positive," all agreed the reduced strikeout rate is not a cause for concern.  Explained another, "He's the type of guy that if he wants to, he can go out and strike out hitters. He's a brilliant, smart pitcher and he's not afraid to pitch to contact. I saw him doing that a lot that last couple years. That's one of the reasons he was able to stay efficient with his pitch counts."  Throw in MLB lineups that are much more prone to swinging and missing, and there's good reason to believe Tanaka will whiff more than 7.8 per nine in 2014.

Heavy Workload: Cause For Concern?

In December, multiple MLB executives expressed concern to Yahoo's Jeff Passan regarding Tanaka's high pitch counts.  The righty averaged about 110 pitches per regular season start in 2013, with seven outings in excess of 122 and a high of 136.  Most famously, Tanaka threw 160 pitches in a Japan Series game and another 15 the next day in relief.  In total, he threw 1,315 innings through his age-24 season, which hasn't happened in the Majors since the mid-70s, according to SI's Tom Verducci.  Perhaps the GMs and owners calling the shots were worried about Tanaka's high pitch counts, but most of the scouts we talked to brushed it off.

"He's been trained for that his entire life," remarked one.  Another noted his durable, solid body and suggested he's someone who might be able to handle throwing a lot of pitches.  One scout noted that while it's obviously not a great idea to throw 160 pitches in a game, Japanese pitchers typically get six or seven days rest between starts, making the total mileage similar to MLB starters.  None of the four feel that Tanaka's injury risk exceeds that of a typical MLB starter.  Keep in mind, however, that the chance of going on the disabled list for the average MLB starter is around 39% for 2014, based on research from Jeff Zimmerman for FanGraphs.

Tanaka's Overall Projection

In a tweet last month, Joel Sherman of the New York Post said the comparables he's heard most often for Tanaka are Hiroki Kuroda and prime-age Dan Haren, plus reliever Bryan Harvey for his splitter.  One scout agreed with the Haren comp, noting that Tanaka has more arm strength.  Others cited Zack Greinke and Matt Cain.

In terms of placing an overall grade on Tanaka, opinions ranged, but all were quite positive.  One scout, who admitted being "toward the higher end of the spectrum," described Tanaka as a number one starter, without hesitation.  He expects Tanaka to contend for the Cy Young, and feels he'll be one of the ten best starting pitchers in MLB in 2014.

The other three scouts placed Tanaka in a slightly lower tier, ranking him in the #15-25 range among all MLB starters for 2014.  Two of them described him as a number two starter.

The mystery of how Tanaka will perform in Major League Baseball should be resolved in short order.  He'll face MLB hitters in Spring Training later this month, and could have a bit of a soft landing with the Yankees' first three regular season games coming in Houston in early April.

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73 Responses to Scouting Masahiro Tanaka Leave a Reply

  1. bjsguess 1 year ago

    Great article. Well written and researched.

    I’m thinking the #3 comp that Cashman threw out there is more for year 1. That seems reasonable. There aren’t a lot of guys that jump from AAA and are impact pitchers from the start. They typically take a year or more to get their bearings.

    I think we also need to remember that great “stuff” doesn’t automatically translate to success. There are lots of guys with amazing scouting grades (looking at you Matt Moore) that should be completely dominant but have yet to fully hit their stride.

    • I was surprised as well, listening to that interview. Cashman definitely says he’s not a front of the rotation starter right out of the gate, which is fair. But then asked his ultimate upside two or three years down the road, he still went with “potential number three starter,” saying he’d certainly be happy if it’s more. So he’s pushing expectations as far down as he can, which is not in line with the contract.

      • Trock 1 year ago

        Possibly trying to save him self in the future already? Maybe they realize that it was far too much of a gamble so saying right out of the gate that he is “potential number three” may lead people to believe that’s what he thought the whole time, they just overpaid for him.

    • livestrong77nyyankz 1 year ago

      Well in Matt Moores case, it typically takes a lefty more time to be able to control their “stuff” as it did with Randy Johnson and Clayton Kershaw. I have no doubt Moore will be bringing it within a couple of seasons.

      • JacobyWanKenobi 1 year ago

        No doubt, I fully expect him to reach an entirely new level sometime soon. Not particularly looking forward to it however.

        • livestrong77nyyankz 1 year ago

          I’ll enjoy watching his starts against other teams than my own. I’ll pray for rain when he does get the start against my Yankees.

      • bjsguess 1 year ago

        I’m not sure that I buy that argument.

        Kershaw, at age 21, posted a 2.79 ERA. Seems like he figured it out pretty quickly. Moore, at age 24, is still struggling (relative to his scouting grades). Don’t be fooled by that shiny ERA. His FIP and xFIP have stayed the same the last 2 years (appx 3.94 and 4.34 respectively). He certainly is a good pitcher – but he is hardly elite (and this says nothing of his inability to reach 200 IP).

        Moore could totally blow up and be a CY candidate this year … or he could post an ERA over 4. He is such an enigma. And there are plenty of guys like him. Guys that should be absolutely dominant based off their pure stuff that never turn into front of the rotation arms. That was my point. Just because Tanaka grades out well we shouldn’t expect him to immediately become a dominant starter. He might. Sure. But he is far from guaranteed.

        • LazerTown 1 year ago

          Some players though seem to have a knack for consistently outperforming their FIP, whether it is them being able to lock things down at the right times, or if it is the stellar defense behind them. I don’t think it’s unsustainable to have a 3.29 era/3.95 FIP. It can sometimes help indicate if one year a player got unlucky if their FIP stayed roughly the same. Also must remember that xFIP is on an equal playing field, but in reality the Rays play in a pitchers ballpark.

      • rct 1 year ago

        While Johnson is a perfect example, instead of Kershaw you could easily swap in the greatest Dodger lefty ever, Sandy Koufax. He was good before, but he didn’t really start dominating until his 8th season.

      • Lionel Bossman Craft 1 year ago

        It took awhile for Sabathia and Cliff Lee to become dominate as well.

    • Lysander91 1 year ago

      I think that they are trying to take the expectations off of Tanaka. It’s pretty obvious that the Yankees need Tanaka to be at least a number 1 or 2 type starter depending on the performance of Sabathia and Nova. I also think that’s what they expect or else they wouldn’t have given him the huge contract.

  2. MadmanTX 1 year ago

    Calling Tanaka a “#3 starter” is a great way to cover yourself for paying a player ace money but if he ends up putting up an 8-12 record with a 4.50+ ERA. If he does better than an average #3 starter, then Cashman can pay himself on the back in a press conference.

    • Jorden 1 year ago

      Calling Tanaka a #3 is more to motivate/protect Tanaka than it is to protect Cashman. Cashman spent #1 starter money, he’ll be judged accordingly.

    • LittleOtterPaws 1 year ago

      those are very Dice-K’ish hypothetical numbers you’ve got there… haha

  3. Couldn’t it be said that Tanaka appears to be almost Lincecum-like? Decent fastball (though Timmy certainly threw much harder when he first came up), a great splitter (Tim erroneously calls it a change-up), and an above average slider?

    Great article, Tim.

    • dgimbel 1 year ago

      Lincum’s stuff could be a solid comparision in terms of stuff. However, Tim is a wild pitcher that strikes out many batters. Like the article said, Tanaka is an average pitcher in terms of strikeouts but rarely walks a batter. Cliff Lee could be a comparable potcher in terms of walks, fastball velocity and repitoire in some ways.

  4. UltimateYankeeFan 1 year ago

    If Tanaka can be a #2 or better after his 1st year with the Yankees the cost was well worth it.

    • bjsguess 1 year ago

      I don’t know. If I pay for the 3rd highest pitching contract ever I would hope to eventually have something better than a #2.

      But then again it’s the Yankees. Money isn’t all that important.

      • LazerTown 1 year ago

        Contracts don’t always line up. Yankees haven’t gotten their opportunity for a top 10 pitcher. Even if he isn’t elite he is the best they have access to.

        • Trock 1 year ago

          I guess it is based on how much you value his states in the NBP league. When he first signed I threw out on the boards that I would of rather takin a shot to get Garza and Jimenez and probably pay them both 14 million a year who might have there issues, but can pitch very well. We have seen flashes of being 2/3 spot rotation guys whereas you don’t know what you get with Tanaka, and you paying him a ridiculous amount.
          I think Tanaka will be good, but definitely not worth the money they are giving him. Garza or Jimenez (IMO) are both worth 14 a year, which around the time of Tanaka, that is what they were both wanting.

          • dgimbel 1 year ago

            But then again, you could get a Yu Darvish.

          • BitLocker 1 year ago

            Jimenez is nothing more than another AJ Burnett/Phil Hughes. He’d get destroyed in the AL East. Garza would be a better option, but he’s a #4/#5 type pitcher, and he’d be commanding 5 years at 30. I’d rather take my chances with Tanaka, and at worse get a #3.

          • Trock 1 year ago

            But you really don’t know that you will get that. I think he will be at the very least a number 3 but you are taking a pitcher who dominated in a league that isn’t full of hitters. Why is it fair to say that Jimenez will get destroyed but tanaka won’t? I agree that Jimenez would get eaten alive but if he is able to find his form I think he would be a great addition to any rotation. All tanaka has going for him currently is his age. Everything else is unknown. I am not a Yankee fan but hope tanaka pans out for them.

          • Denny Doyle 1 year ago

            “Garza would be a better option, but he’s a #4/#5 type pitcher, and he’d be commanding 5 years at 30.”

            He signed 4 yrs for 50mil. How do you figure he’s “5 years at 30″? Also, are you saying he’s a 4th or 5th starter?

  5. Cyyoung 1 year ago

    The real Scouting Report starts this year.

  6. jacks81x 1 year ago

    Yes, the Yanks would never pay that kind of money for a #3 SP, but keep in mind that this is not just a baseball decision, but a business decision as well. The Yanks are counting on his off-the-field earning potential to recoup what they spent to sign him initially.

  7. John Cate 1 year ago

    Yeah, he’s expecting Tanaka to be a really consistent No. 3 because he plans on signing Homer Bailey next year and David Price the next…

    The only thing about Tanaka is that if his stuff is really that good, he should have been striking out more men in NPB without even trying to. Replacement level in NPB is probably about Double-A level here, and hitters of that caliber can’t hit great pitchers at all. Maybe he was intentionally pitching to contact against bad hitters, but he won’t be able to do that here.

    • Riaaaaaa 1 year ago

      Kuroda did not strike out that many batters either, and he is successful here…

      • John Cate 1 year ago

        Kuroda also left before Japan introduced a less-lively baseball that improved pitching stats over there across the board. His stat lines in Japan don’t look much different than his MLB ones. After he left, they introduced a dead ball and people like Darvish and Tanaka started having 1.27 ERA’s.

    • LazerTown 1 year ago

      If you don’t have to you don’t want to strike everyone out. A weak grounder is more effective for your pitch count if no one is on base. I’d take the smart pitcher than the one that wants to strike everyone out.

      • Evan 1 year ago

        Yet people are worried his pitch count was so high all the time. How does that work?

        • NL_East_Rivalry 1 year ago

          I think it’s that they plan to use him for a long time in games. Something more than the usual.

          So in order to go a complete game he will need to get outs without pitching as much. That’s why he needs to pitch to contact.

        • LazerTown 1 year ago

          He pitched more innings per game than he will over here. Kershaw averaged 7.15 innings/start last year, Verlander at 6.42, Shields at 6.7. Tanaka threw 7.8, and those are the elite, normal #2 pitchers are going to give you 6.25.

  8. Derpy 1 year ago

    The thing about him throwing more innings than MLB pitchers is completely ridiculous. People aren’t counting minor league numbers and comparing Japanese innings to just MLB innings. It is a totally absurd comparison. Count all professional innings, add them all up, and Tanaka has roughly what most pitchers have at his age. The only people with fewer are college guys, and you should count their college innings, or guys who missed time due to injury.

    • Denny Doyle 1 year ago

      Minor league pitchers are limited, and rarely reach 100 pitches for a top prospect. You do make a good point, no one seems to factor in those minor league numbers, because they are tough to come by. But concern about it isn’t “ridiculous” and “absurd”. American pitchers don’t pitch 160, followed by 15 the next day. Also, you have to figure minor league pitching is less stressful on the arm, than pitching in the Japanese majors and ultimately their championship.

      • Derpy 1 year ago

        There is no such thing as more stressful on the arm. Pitching is pitching. Every time you get on the mound you have a chance of getting hurt. I don’t care if it is high school, college, A, AA, AAA or MLB. I don’t care if it is a warmup, an exhibition, a regular game, or the post season. Every time you get on the mound, you have a chance of injury.

        For the majority of baseball history people were throwing 160 or more pitches every 4th day. And for the majority of baseball history starting pitchers pitched in the relief roles as well. It was not abnormal to start 40 games and close 10 or more. And that was in a shorter season than you have today. The idea that lower pitch counts is somehow healthier is a complete and utter myth. If it were true, injury rates would have dropped.

        • bjsguess 1 year ago

          What?

          Sure it is possible to get hurt doing anything. What we are talking about is probability. There is more than enough evidence to suggest that most pitchers dramatically increase the probability of injury when used excessively. There will always be exceptions but that is the established rule and it is no myth.

          As for what players were doing 70 years ago … different era. The quality of play was different as were expectations. It wasn’t expected that you would be dealing at 95mph in the 8th inning. And sure a lot of guys pitched a lot of innings. You also had a high churn rate of guys because they got hurt early in their career and could never pitch again.

          For every Nolan Ryan there is a Mark Prior (or more like 10 Mark Prior’s). Just because Ryan could throw so many innings don’t assume that others could as well. Maybe Tanaka has a rubber arm and can handle it. Or maybe he’s like 75%+ of guys who will experience an injury from over use.

      • Derpy 1 year ago

        There is no such thing as more stressful on the arm. Pitching is pitching. Every time you get on the mound you have a chance of getting hurt. I don’t care if it is high school, college, A, AA, AAA or MLB. I don’t care if it is a warmup, an exhibition, a regular game, or the post season. Every time you get on the mound, you have a chance of injury.

        For the majority of baseball history people were throwing 160 or more pitches every 4th day. And for the majority of baseball history starting pitchers pitched in the relief roles as well. It was not abnormal to start 40 games and close 10 or more. And that was in a shorter season than you have today. The idea that lower pitch counts is somehow healthier is a complete and utter myth. If it were true, injury rates would have dropped.

    • Denny Doyle 1 year ago

      Minor league pitchers are limited, and rarely reach 100 pitches for a top prospect. You do make a good point, no one seems to factor in those minor league numbers, because they are tough to come by. But concern about it isn’t “ridiculous” and “absurd”. American pitchers don’t pitch 160, followed by 15 the next day. Also, you have to figure minor league pitching is less stressful on the arm, than pitching in the Japanese majors and ultimately their championship.

  9. Christopher A. Otto 1 year ago

    In a way, this makes him sound like Halladay in his later-career, but still peak, years. A guy with a lot of smarts and a strong arsenal of pitches. A guy who can be a strikeout guy if he wants, but can also win a game by pitching to contact. …. The biggest difference might be that Halladay benefited from a long-time knowledge of MLB hitters and umpires. Will Tanaka know enough about the hitters he’s facing to exploit their weaknesses?

    • therealprof 1 year ago

      I suppose they are leaning on McCann to have that knowledge. Though he is a NL lifer, inter-league play has exposed him to the AL enough for him to catch on rather quickly. It wouldn’t surprise me if they saved McCann’s days off for when Kuroda or CC is pitching so he can bring along the young’ns like Tanaka, Nova and likely Pineda.

    • argenys 1 year ago

      Kuroda

  10. InvalidUserID 1 year ago

    It’s encouraging to read information and scouting reports like these but for all the positive and negatives about him, he’s a mystery in terms of MLB. I think that’s part of the intrigue with Japanese players (and international players in general): how they’ll turn out.

  11. Zack Sheffield 1 year ago

    I understand why all the focus on this “#3 starter” comment has been about the money, contract, etc, but I think it’s also important to remember what the Yankees rotation looks like this year: #1 & #2 are CC and Kuroda (presumably the order will depend on spring performance, but I’d be surprised if CC doesn’t pitch opening day). They are both admittedly in need of a bit of a bounce-back from at least the second half of last season, but the reality is that #3 was as high as anybody new to the team was going to be slotted this year. Let’s also not forget that the Yankees’ idea of #3 might not be particularly in line with the rest of the league – that was Andy Pettitte’s spot, after all.

    • InvalidUserID 1 year ago

      I think it’s also that it wouldn’t be wise for Cashman to say “We expect Tanaka to be an ace and one of the best in baseball!”. It would have been wiser for Cashman to simply say “We expect Tanaka to be a very good pitcher for us.” but whatcha gonna do.

    • Tko11 1 year ago

      Except you keep ignoring the money difference if they signed one of the other FA pitchers to be a #3 in comparison to the $155 million Tanaka got.

  12. Curt Green 1 year ago

    Here’s hoping he is everything Cashman expects him to be.

  13. Macfan01 1 year ago

    Look forward to his introduction press conference at Yankee Stadium today. Welcome Tanaka to the most storied franchise in sports history.

    Can’t wait for Spring Training to get underway. Let’s Go Yankees.

  14. PWNdroia 1 year ago

    160 pitches a game? Dice-K anyone?

  15. Zac 1 year ago

    So you paid Tanaka 155M and another 20M to his former team to “potential be a really good #3 starter.” Hmm seems like money well spent.

  16. RIYankeeGuy 1 year ago

    If Cashman said, we certainly expect an ace out of Tanaka one day, this forum would have been filled with “he’s never thrown a pitch stateside” or “Cashman is setting up Makun to fail with extraordinary pressure and expectations” comments.

    I also believe people are getting too caught up in the money. The price of a commodity is determined by the needs and resources of the buyer. The market said MaKun was worth 100-120 millions over six years, so the Yankees having the greatest need and available resources, assured MaKun was wearing pinstripes by offering in addition to the market standard.

    Personally, I’m hoping for 190 IP, 1.20 WHIP, 3.20-3.75 ERA, 180 K, 3.5 K/BB from Tanaka this year. Anyone else want to venture a guess?

    • Denny Doyle 1 year ago

      Had to do a search to find out Makun was Tanaka’s nickname. Don’t worry, rest of nation will catch on.

      Like the idea of projecting. I say he starts out on fire, due to adrenaline and hitters not being familiar with him. But, as the season goes on, pitching every fifth day will fatigue him. 200 IP, 1.30 WHIP, 3.70 ERA, 160K, 4.0 K/BB

      • RIYankeeGuy 1 year ago

        I’d take the 200 innings and that ERA/low BB rate in a heartbeat!

  17. 佐藤 ユリ (Lilly) 1 year ago

    Expecting #3 from a pitcher in his first year in MLB, that’s sort of like saying, “even though we expect this to be a transition year, we’re expecting it to be a good transition year”.

  18. EVIL EMPIRE 1 year ago

    Future Frontline Starter; very excited to see what Pineda, Banuelos and Jose Ramirez can do this year. Heard Pineda was hitting 94-95 MPH which points in the right direction.

    • RIYankeeGuy 1 year ago

      Pineda was hitting 92-94 when he returned to the minors last year. It was his fatigue after 60 or so pitches and not being able to pitch past the 5th, which combined with tightness in his shoulder, forced the Yanks to shut him down.

      I share your excitement too, but capsule surgery is much more severe than say Tommy John. Jose Ramirez has electric stuff, but already there is talk about a permanent conversion to RP. Banuelos is the most likely to be successful this season (even if in the bullpen at first) in my irrelevant opinion.

      • EVIL EMPIRE 1 year ago

        C’mon your opinion isn’t irrelevant, believe in your word :)

        In terms of Ramirez, I think you have to give him every opportunity to start. He has outstanding velocity and high k rates alongside 2 effective pitches and a solid frame. Health is the only factor in his way

        • RIYankeeGuy 1 year ago

          Ha! Fair enough.

          Ramirez is probably the “filthiest” arm in the Yanks system and I hope they are willing to be patient too. I mean the Yankees gave Betances six years too long to become a SP before converting him to a lanky, effective RP last year. On the flip side, they may ruined Joba and stunted Hughes development with prolonged RP stints.

          Boy was Tanaka important!

      • Macfan01 1 year ago

        I’m hoping Pineda can contribute this season. Heaven knows someone from that Pineda/Montero deal has to be worthwhile. :)

        Maybe its Pineda this season. I’ll believe things though when I see him actually take the mound in a regular season game for the first time ever and delivers a pitch.

  19. NOLASoxFan 1 year ago

    If this article does anything, it decreases my confidence in what scouts say. One has his fastball as “heavy”; two others worry that it flattens out. The “plus” or better (6+) rating they gave that pitch looks totally arbitrary, especially as his velocity is middling (compare his listed avg. v of 91-93 mph to averages at Fangraphs) and they describe his command as somewhere between average and plus-plus(!!!). The splitter seems to be his best pitch, but somehow it gets described as a 6, 7, or an 8, depending on who you talk to. Did they all watch the same pitcher? I’m not saying he won’t be excellent. I’m just not impressed by the high level of variability in scouts’ impressions.

  20. Tim 1 year ago

    I’m saying he’s a 16 win, 3.30-.45 ERA guy his first year. Sky’s the limit with this guy!

    • Macfan01 1 year ago

      Yep, 15-17 wins and a 3.35+ ERA

      • Tim 1 year ago

        I know our projections are irrelevant, but numbers aren’t just being thrown out there solely based on hope. Watching film of his stuff is memorizing; loving that splitter-slider combo and his fastball seems very live. Just finished watching his press conference on YES..he even looks like a stud! Carries himself very well too.

  21. Macfan01 1 year ago

    Tanaka stated at his press conference introduction that he is fully aware of the pressure in New York, but looks forward to the challenge. Guy has a lot of confidence.

    Over 200 credentials were issued, biggest player introduction since Matsui.

  22. Holy Smokes 1 year ago

    I watched 3 hours of youtube games with Tanaka. I swear he has 3 different splitters – 12-6, 1-7 and 2-8 – I guess the 2-8 could be a slider but the spin of the ball and the drop is definitely a splitter.

  23. Derpy 1 year ago

    Pitchers aren’t throwing harder. Back then players often measured how far they could throw the ball, which is directly linked to the velocity in which they could throw. A given velocity gives you a given range for your throw. If you assume the players threw at the ideal throwing angle, then you can estimate the velocity of the ball given the range. Doing so you find they were throwing about 91-92 mph. Which is the same as you see with today’s players. They threw just as hard back then. Maybe you see more high end pitchers, guys who throw 96-100, but that is only because there is a larger group of people playing the sport in general. The average velocity of pitches hasn’t changed, and there were certainly pitchers who threw some serious heat back then.

  24. rct 1 year ago

    While I am loathe to defend people complaining about the Yankees’ spending (even as someone who hates the Yankees, if they can spend it, they should), your example of the other teams ‘willing to drop down big money’ falls short, because the point is that those teams didn’t spend big money and it was because the Yankees outbid them. And IIRC, the Yankees outbid them all by a wide margin.

    Also, the Cano signing alone does not prove anything about ‘lots of other teams’ having money; it only says something about the Ms. The influx of TV money to some teams, however, does suggest that many teams could spend if they wanted to.

  25. Denny Doyle 1 year ago

    Its a well written original article that took time to compose, unlike posting a different site’s story. Also, its about the clicks, and NY based stories give lots of clicks.

  26. RIYankeeGuy 1 year ago

    Tanaka was the headline for this site from late November until his January signing. This was when he was a Rakuten Golden Eagle, not a New York Yankee. I’m sure most people can appreciate a developed scouting article on this off-season leading story/mystery.

  27. Kyle 1 year ago

    Lets hope for the Yankees sakes he turns out to be a star and not a bust.

  28. Macfan01 1 year ago

    You, I and others have no idea what the official numbers are of the other teams that were in on Tanaka, its all speculation. The fact is other teams were willing to spend big, even if Tanaka was going to take a discount to go to Arizona or Chicago he would still likely be getting well over 100 million dollars.

    So then what we are really talking about here is others simply jealous their team doesn’t have the revenue resources the Yankees have by being the Yankees. Got it. If the Yankees could have any and everyone shouldn’t Cano have been back with the Yankees, why isn’t he then, he is one of the games best players and went elsewhere.

    Even when evidence flies in the face of the money complainers, they still cling to it. The critics say money doesn’t guarantee success, they say the Yankees got a bunch of old, injured guys, then they say the Yankees can’t win with those guys, then they say no fair the Yankees can spend.

    What they really want is the Yankees to lose no matter the reason. All the other stuff is semantics.

  29. rct 1 year ago

    I agree with what you’re saying, except for the first paragraph. It doesn’t matter what the other teams were bidding because the Yankees had more money and could easily outbid them, which is the original poster’s point.

    I mean, you say that we have ‘no idea’ on the official numbers but then say that he’d have to take a discount to go to Arizona or Chicago. That is precisely the point. The Yankees could afford to give more money than everyone else on a risk, so they did it. Other teams could/would not, so they didn’t. No other team except for maybe the Dodgers would be willing to throw so much money at a risk like Tanaka.

    But like I said, even as a non-Yankees fan, I don’t care how much they spend. I think baseball is more fun when the Yankees are spending like mad.

  30. bjsguess 1 year ago

    Money does not buy success. Money dramatically increases the probability of success. That is irrefutable.

    And yes – people do root for the Yankees to lose. That’s the nature of supporting a particular team. You want your team to win and others to lose.

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