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.
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.