TAMPA, Fla. – One Japanese pitcher has thrown 17 innings during spring training, allowing 13 hits and five earned runs. He has walked 12 and struck out 19.
Another Japanese pitcher has tossed 17 2/3 innings this spring. He has given up nine hits and four earned runs with seven walks and 19 strikeouts.
Care to guess which one is superstar-in-the-making Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Red Sox and which one is supposed rotation filler Kei Igawa of the Yankees?
Peter Abraham goes the snide route in the Journal News this morning, tarnishing an otherwise fine article with a needless comparison of the two Japanese pitchers based on their spring training statistics. Although, as commenter d-1 notes in a thread below, Abraham wisely stays away from extrapolating to his logical extreme — that Igawa will be nearly as good as Matsuzaka — he still can’t resist saying Igawa might be the better "bargain."
Forgetting for a second the lunacy of declaring someone with no track record a bargain a week before the season even starts, extrapolating those spring stats over 200 innings gives two entirely different pitchers:
208.2 IP, 106 H, 83 BB, 224 K, .906 WHIP
200.2 IP, 153 H, 142 BB, 224 K, 1.47 WHIP
By comparison, no pitcher in baseball had a WHIP below 1.00 in 2006. The top 3 in WHIP were Santana, Carpenter and Halladay, all 1.10 or below with ERAs below 3.20. Sixty-five MLB pitchers had WHIPs below 1.47, including Tim Hudson (4.86 ERA), Mark Buehrle (4.99) and the much maligned Gil Meche (4.48). Jeff Weaver’s WHIP last season was 1.51 (with a 5.76 ERA). Jason Marquis’ (6.02) was 1.52.
If Igawa can pitch on a level with those pitchers, he will be a bargain considering what they received in free agency. If Matsuzaka pitches on a level with Santana, Halladay and Carpenter, he too will be a bargain considering what Zito and Schmidt received in free agency. The comparisons logically shouldn’t go much further than that.