The Mockingbird

Crossing Over

with 6 comments

This is as exciting as it gets this offseason: the Blue Jays have signed Ken Takahashi to a minor league contract for a look as a starter in a deal that could reach 1.5 million in incentives. Hard to hate with no risk and the Jays’ rotation one question mark after the next, but does a 40-year-old non-superstar really have a hope in hell of making the transition to major league baseball? Here’s a look at his numbers from the last year through some quick and dirty adjustment factors for Japanese pitchers.

2008 Hits/9 BB/9 K/9 HR/9
Ken Takahashi 9.6 3.3 5.5 0.9
MLB Equivalent 10.3 3.5 4.9 1.1
MLB Average 9.2 3.3 6.6 1.0

Not terrible considering the Jays are only looking for a 6th starter – but the lack of strikeouts is trouble and the HR rate suspicious. Takahashi’s ERA of 3.50 is much lower than it ‘should’ have been because he kept the ball in the park much better than over the rest of his career and allowed far fewer runs than his peripherals would suggest.

Who knows where his HR rate will end up, but using Bill James’ Component ERA to estimate how many runs he should have allowed, after a giant mess of calculations we end up with a prediction of a 4.95 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP if Takahashi had been in the majors last season. Why not let the kids take a shot at matching those underwhelming numbers? Maybe because if you’re going to start scouting Japan with a vengence, it might help to be able to point at a player who has already come over…

On a lighter note, go to 2:15 in the following video and watch Takahashi strike out Hideki Matsui with a wacky (and now outlawed) double leg pump in his delivery. Even from the left side, he should continue the proud Blue Jays tradition of being absolute murder on catchers trying to throw out basestealers.


Written by halejon

February 4, 2009 at 2:28 am

Posted in Seriousness

6 Responses

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  1. He’s the Japanese Jamie Moyer. Also, 173 pitch 10 hit complete game shutout? Even Cito wouldn’t leave Doc out that long.


    February 4, 2009 at 6:19 am

  2. Did Takahasi pitch in one of those tiny Japanese parks or one that was closer to major league dimensions – if he pitched in one of the tiny ones, perhaps that might explain the HR rate increase.

    …OK, I just looked a little closer at the adjustment link (feh, who needs reading/thinking before commenting…) the HRs seem stable/down in most cases listed (with the notable exception of Irabu but Nomo really cut his HR totals)… so nothing conclusive, but it isn’t a given that he’ll see a spike in HR totals.

    But all in all… I can’t believe this is the type of signing Jays fans are talking about going into the season… this kind of just feels like another Jo Matumoto, fun story, 0 ML impact. Sigh. What I wouldn’t give for news on the order of last year’s Scutaro trade. At least it’ll all come to a mother-flippin’ merciful end in two weeks time when pitchers and catchers report.

    Christopher Taylor

    February 4, 2009 at 1:29 pm

  3. Yeah, it’s not a given – but HR rates are somewhat like BABIP in that they fluctuate significantly on luck from one year to the next but are really tied to a particular number – in this case, your FB%. I can’t find his GB/FB numbers, but such a serious drop like that so late in a career screams luck to me, unless the Sal Fasano of the Japanese league taught him a new way to hold his sinker.

    Matumoto was the first guy I thought of too. Sigh. At least they’re trying?


    February 4, 2009 at 2:40 pm

  4. Even the tiny Japanese parks have tall outfield walls, probably because most of them have turf, even the outdoor ones.


    February 4, 2009 at 2:55 pm

  5. That is a really wacky delivery. Too bad they couldn’t bring that over to the MLB.


    February 5, 2009 at 2:29 am

  6. He pitched in the smallest park there in front of one of the worst defense.
    He have a history of performing better in the first half of season and collapsing after summer, probably due to overwork. He actually made the all star team last year. So I guess, in a normal team and a normal management, his number can be a lot better.
    It is true he is old but his fast ball is faster than when he was in his 20s. I have nothing to hate about this deal.


    February 5, 2009 at 4:37 pm

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