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How Much Should You Pay For Yu Darvish?

No puns for me today, Thank You.

Now that he's officially a Ranger, where do you draft him? Let's start with what other people have done to this point. Expert ADP data at Mock Draft Central has him coming off the board at 188.2, or 186th overall with a high pick of 67th overall. As it stands now, that ADP ranks him 45th among starting pitchers, but the truth is, he'll be among the players vaulting up the ADP charts now that it's a certainty he's pitching in North America this season.

While beginning the research process for this entry, I stumbled into an excellent post from Chris St. John looking at Japenese pitchers who started their careers overseas (i.e. no Colby Lewis, Ryan Vogelsong types) and made the transition to the MLB. You can check out the post here and follow Chris on Twitter @Stealofhome.

For plenty of reasons, Darvish's arrival has fantasy owners thinking that he's going to be very similar to Daisuke Matsuzaka as a big league pitcher. The consensus among industry types seems to be that Darvish will provide plenty of strikeouts, but pitching in Texas against MLB hitters will be radically different than the pitcher-friendly environments of Japan. Hardly rocket science, but probably a safe simple evaluation of where he's headed.

RotoWire's 2012 projection for Darvish: 201 IP, 13-8, 169 H, 191:62 K:BB, 3.22 ERA, 1.149 WHIP.

His rate stats would understandably be among the worst of his career, including a 0.81 HR/9IP, 2.78 BB/9IP and 8.55 K/9IP.

Let's just say the projection comes out perfect. Those are excellent numbers, and we can use the Play Index tool at Baseball Reference to generate the list of pitchers with that combination of rate stats in a season since 2007. Only 13 have done it and two, CC Sabathia and Justin Verlander, have it done twice.

Rk Player SO IP SO/9 BB/9 HR/9 Year Age Tm Lg GS CG SHO W L SV H R ER BB ERA ERA+ HR
1 Justin Verlander 269 240.0 10.09 2.36 0.75 2009 26 DET AL 35 3 1 19 9 0 219 99 92 63 3.45 132 20
2 Tim Lincecum 261 225.1 10.42 2.72 0.40 2009 25 SFG NL 32 4 2 15 7 0 168 69 62 68 2.48 173 10
3 CC Sabathia 251 253.0 8.93 2.10 0.68 2008 27 TOT ML 35 10 5 17 10 0 223 85 76 59 2.70 157 19
4 Justin Verlander 250 251.0 8.96 2.04 0.86 2011 28 DET AL 34 4 2 24 5 0 174 73 67 57 2.40 170 24
5 Clayton Kershaw 248 233.1 9.57 2.08 0.58 2011 23 LAD NL 33 5 2 21 5 0 174 66 59 54 2.28 163 15
6 Zack Greinke 242 229.1 9.50 2.00 0.43 2009 25 KCR AL 33 6 3 16 8 0 195 64 55 51 2.16 205 11
7 Jake Peavy 240 223.1 9.67 2.74 0.52 2007 26 SDP NL 34 0 0 19 6 0 169 67 63 68 2.54 158 13
8 Cliff Lee 238 232.2 9.21 1.62 0.70 2011 32 PHI NL 32 6 6 17 8 0 197 66 62 42 2.40 161 18
9 Javier Vazquez 238 219.1 9.77 1.81 0.82 2009 33 ATL NL 32 3 0 15 10 0 181 75 70 44 2.87 143 20
10 CC Sabathia 230 237.1 8.72 2.31 0.64 2011 30 NYY AL 33 3 1 19 8 0 230 87 79 61 3.00 147 17
11 Felix Hernandez 222 233.2 8.55 2.58 0.73 2011 25 SEA AL 33 5 0 14 14 0 218 99 90 67 3.47 111 19
12 David Price 218 224.1 8.75 2.53 0.88 2011 25 TBR AL 34 0 0 12 13 0 192 93 87 63 3.49 107 22
13 Dan Haren 206 216.0 8.58 1.67 0.79 2008 27 ARI NL 33 1 1 16 8 0 204 86 80 40 3.33 139 19
14 John Smoltz 197 205.2 8.62 2.06 0.79 2007 40 ATL NL 32 0 0 14 8 0 196 78 71 47 3.11 140 18
15 Josh Beckett 194 200.2 8.70 1.79 0.76 2007 27 BOS AL 30 1 0 20 7 0 189 76 73 40 3.27 145 17
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 1/19/2012.

Elite company, and that is with built-in regression expectations.

Darvish will undoubtedly become an ADP riser in the next two-plus months. As the hype builds up and more people come to grips with the amount of money an intelligent Texas organization threw at him, it would hardly be surprising to see him reliably come off the board within the first 100 or so picks of a standard mixed league.

Jeff Erickson and I went through a half dozen or so second-tier pitchers today while trying to find a better expected cost for Darvish on draft day during the opening segment of RotoWire Fantasy Sports Today on Thursday.

Beginning just outside the top-15 starting pitchers on the aforementioned Expert ADP list, we had the following for comparisons.

19. Tommy Hanson, ATL (91.3) -- Way too much risk with rotator cuff trouble, edge: Darvish.
20. Mat Latos, CIN (95.7) -- Similar underlying numbers and concerns about home park. edge: Push.
21. Madison Bumgarner, SF (98.4) -- Undervalued, edge: Bumgarner.
22. Michael Pineda, NYY (103.0) -- Likely to become overvalued, even at this price: edge: Darvish
23. C.J. Wilson, LAA (107.4) -- Skipped over him in conversation, I'd rather have Darvish but it's close.
24. Dan Hudson, ARI (108.0) -- Seeing a leap forward from Hudson this year, slight edge: Hudson (Jeff), Darvish (DVR)
25. Ricky Romero, TOR (112.3) -- Like Wilson, wasn't included in the conversation on air, my edge: Darvish.
26. Josh Johnson, MIA (119.7) -- Speaking of risk, like Johnson here better than Hanson, but edge: Darvish.

Essentially, Jeff and I came to the conclusion that Darvish should be treated like a top-20 pitcher on draft day, but as those numbers from the Play Index suggest, his 2012 projection hints at the possibility that we may be talking about him as a top-10 or even top-five option among starting pitchers by this time next year.

Follow me on Twitter @DerekVanRiper.

Comments

By: gooklaw
On: 1/19/2012 1:06:00 PM
I might take him at about 100 over MadBum, but only because of run support; we only count wins for starters.
 
By: Erickson
On: 1/19/2012 1:59:00 PM
For what it's worth, I'd prefer Wilson over Darvish.
 
By: Zenguerrilla
On: 1/19/2012 2:51:00 PM
What is his Al/Mixed price tag?
 
By: rkinigson
On: 1/19/2012 6:46:00 PM
Great article. But I'm with Jeff on Hudson over Darvish.
 
By: lvtdude
On: 1/20/2012 5:58:00 PM
Let someone else overpay. Someone will. Someone is going to draft him like he's Justin Verlander or Clayton Kershaw. Let them.
 

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