Originally written on Baseball Professor  |  Last updated 11/14/14
In his first MLB season, Yu Darvish walked 10.9% of all batters he faced, which led to a rate of 4.19 BB/9. That 10.9% mark was good for 95th out of the 99 pitchers who threw at least 150 innings, and only Edinson Volquez, Francisco Liriano, Tim Lincecum, and Ubaldo Jimenez had worse walk rates. That’s not very good company. In spite of his difficulties issuing free passes, Darvish still managed a 1.28 WHIP, which was actually good for 62nd of those 99 pitchers. While 1.28 isn’t great, it definitely won’t kill you. In fantasy terms, it’s on the lower end of respectable. Year one of Darvish’s major league career was a huge success, and year two should end up being even better. Despite posting a higher ERA after the All-Star Break than before (4.26 versus 3.59), Darvish actually had better peripheral stats in the second half. His 10.56 K/9, 3.65 BB/9, 14.9% infield fly rate, 1.18 WHIP, and 2.80 FIP after the break were all better than their first-half counterparts, and Darvish’s second-half struggles can mainly be attributed to an abysmal 63.8% strand rate (league average is 72%). At a Glance Strengths: W, K, IP, QS Neutral: ERA, WHIP, L Weaknesses: none Player Comparisons Best-case scenario: CC Sabathia (NYY) Likely scenario: Max Scherzer (DET), Zack Greinke (LAD), Gio Gonzalez (WAS) Worst-case scenario: Tim Lincecum (SF) Yu Darvish 2013 Fantasy Projection Projecting wins is never easy. Had we gone out on a limb and projected Darvish for 17 or 18 wins this year he would have been a lot higher in our rankings, so if you feel like that’s where his win total will end up then feel free to reach on him as soon as pick 60-70. I prefer to draft pitchers factoring in reasonable win totals (unless that pitcher is CC Sabathia who, 2012 aside) almost always wins 17+) and that’s why we only pegged Darvish for 15. He’ll be in the top five in strikeouts in all of baseball, and that will help counteract his potentially high walk rate. We think he picks up where he left off in the second half and really gets the walks under control, and that will help him improve upon his 1.28 WHIP last year. Darvish is a workhorse and he’s one of the toughest pitchers to hit in the entire league. I believe he’s a sleeper Cy Young candidate this year, but he’ll only go as far as his walk and fly ball rates allow him. If he can keep those at league average or better, he’ll be a stud for both your fantasy team and the Rangers.
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