How Good Is Yu Darvish?
Has anyone noticed just how well Yu Darvish pitched this year? His 2.83 ERA was the lowest by any Rangers pitcher who threw at least 100 innings in the 20 seasons since the Rangers moved into The Ballpark in Arlington in 1994 and only the second Ranger starting pitcher during that period to post an ERA below 3.00 (C. J. Wilson was the first with a 2.94 ERA in 2011).
Darvish’s strikeout rate of 11.9 per nine innings pitched this year was the highest rate since soon-to-be Hall-of-Famer Randy Johnson’s all-time single season high of 13.4 rate in 2001 and the ninth highest for a qualifier all-time. Darvish’s rate of only 6.224 hits allowed per nine innings this year would have been the lowest rate by a qualifying pitcher since 2007, but for Marlins’ rookie Jose Fernandez’s 5.786 rate this year, the eleventh lowest all-time.
Darvish’s utter unhittablity was masked by the facts that he went only 13-9 this year and also that the Rangers failed to make the play-offs after losing a tie-breaker with the Rays at the end of the regular season.
Darvish did have a couple of weaknesses this year. First, despite allowing so few hits, he allowed a whopping 26 home runs (13 at home and 13 away). Second, he allowed 80 walks, or 3.43 per nine innings pitched, which is fairly high.
If Darvish is healthy in 2014 and can cut down on the walks and gopher balls, he has to be the odds-on favorite to win the American League Cy Young award next year.