Yu Darvish Profile (Fantasy Baseball)

by Bobby Sylvester | @bobbyfantasypro | Featured Writer
Mar 17, 2017

Yu Darvish could far surpass 250 strikeouts this season

Shoehi Otani (aka Japan’s Babe Ruth) will change this in a few seasons, but Yu Darvish was the greatest young player to ever sign an MLB contract out of Asia a few seasons ago. He had just wrapped up five seasons with ERAs of 1.82, 1.88, 1.73, 1.78 and 1.44 with loads of strikeouts each season when the Rangers spent a boatload to make him their immediate ace. Darvish was an all-star in his first three Big League seasons before being shut down for 2015.

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2016 Overview

Darvish missed the first two months of the season in his recovry from Tommy John, but picked up right where he left off. Texas was cautious with his innings at first, but eventually let him loose in the second half. He threw 100 innings on the season with a remarkable 132 strikeouts and just 81 hits allowed. Those numbers are phenomenal even without the setbacks that come with recovering from Tommy John. Typically, it takes a full season of pitching before a pitcher even has a chance to look like himself, but Darvish was 5th in baseball fox xFIP and 2nd in K/9 behind only Jose Fernandez.

Historical Career

Believe it or not, Darvish has already found himself in historical company. Below are the single-season strikeouts per nine innings leaders:

Rank Player (age that year) K/9 IP Year
1. Randy Johnson (37) 13.4099 2001
2. Pedro Martinez (27) 13.2047 1999
3. Kerry Wood (21) 12.5820 1998
4. Randy Johnson (36) 12.5590 2000
5. Jose Fernandez (23) 12.4881 2016
6. Randy Johnson (31) 12.3453 1995
7. Randy Johnson (33) 12.2958 1997
8. Randy Johnson (34) 12.1187 1998
9. Randy Johnson (35) 12.0589 1999
10. Yu Darvish (26) 11.8903 2013

 
In that same season, Darvish led the league in hits per nine innings, allowing only 6.22. That figure is 4th in a season among all active pitchers and better than Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander or Max Scherzer has ever done. The point is, that Darvish fairly recently displayed elite ability and seemed to get that back last season with 11.8 K/9 and the lowest BB-rate of his career. Also, keep in mind that he just turned 30 years old and could have another 120+ career wins ahead of him. We may not have seen the best version of Yu Darvish yet.

2017 Outlook

If he stays healthy, we should expect Darvish to be a top 5 fantasy pitcher, especially with the like of Beltre, Mazara and Odor helping him stack up the wins. Darvish has the upside to strikeout 300 hitters which has only been done by Clayton Kershaw, Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Randy Johnson and Nolan Ryan in the past 30 seasons. You’ll notice, not even Roger Clemens is on that list. His ADP is now 41, which is a handful of spots earlier than it was a month ago, so I am willing to reach so high for him that it draws laughter from the peanut gallery, if only to ensure no one gets my ace before me. In six months, we will be the ones laughing when he is the unanimous AL Cy Young winner.

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