Will we see Yu Darvish in Texas? (VIDEO)
The Texas Rangers made a record-setting bid for Japanese star pitcher Yu Darvish, letting the baseball club negotiate a contract with him. But if he does sign, will he hit the 'Third-Year Wall'?
(Page 2 of 2)
The worry that will likely be in the back of the Rangers' minds is that Darvish's similarities to Matsuzaka may continue once he's stateside.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Japanese Baseball Players in the US
2011 Reflections: Suddenly, a new era in the Middle East
2011 Reflections: the end of a landmark year for Latin America
2011 Reflections: Africa rises, taking charge of its affairs
How the 'Year of the Protester' played out in Europe
In Prague, a tale of communism past
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci writes that Japanese players, once in the majors, have frequently started strong but petered out by their third year – a phenomenon now known as the "Third-Year Wall." And despite the Red Sox's broad preventative efforts to avoid a similar experience with Daisuke, "Matsuzaka crashed into The Wall. Over his first two seasons, Matsuzaka was 33-15 with a 3.72 ERA. But starting with Year Three, Matsuzaka has been 16-15 with a 5.03 ERA while suffering shoulder, hip and elbow injuries."
But River Ave. Blues writer Mike Axisa pointed out last week that Darvish's average numbers in Japan are even better than Matsuzaka's best. And he cites Patrick Newman of English-language Japanese baseball site NPB Tracker, who wrote that he is "more optimistic about him than I have been of anyone in the past." Still, Newman notes that the media pressure on Darvish will be even higher than usual for Japanese players coming to the majors, as he'll be under scrutiny from both sides of the Pacific.
...Keep in mind that Darvish is going to have more pressure and attention than possibly any player that has preceded him. Ichiro [Suzuki] was stalked relentlessly by the Japanese media when he joined the Mariners, but I don’t think the Americans necessarily expected much from him. American fans have been anticipating Darvish for years, so he’ll have the Japanese insanity and the American expectations to live up to. I think he will be successful though, and I hope he is.
And Darvish already is in the Japanese public's eye, Sports Illustrated's Joe Lemire wrote last month. The Iranian-Japanese Darvish was described by his first manager as a mix of "Fonzie and Elvis Presley," and his life has been "tabloid fodder," Lemire wrote. "He married an actress and garnered additional notoriety when he was photographed smoking in a gaming parlor while underage and for posing nearly nude in a magazine." He's even got his own blog.
But he seems to have the makeup to succeed in the US, wrote Lemire: "those who have watched him [in Japan] have little doubt he will be a quality pitcher at the major league level. ... The only question now is when."
Get daily or weekly updates from CSMonitor.com delivered to your inbox. Sign up today.