12.20.2006

Kei Igawa


I have found since creating this that trying to follow all of baseball is wayyyy to difficult so I am going to concentrate on the Yankees primarily from here on out with an occasional article about something else interesting in baseball. My goal of this piece is to try and project what can be expected of Igawa for this upcoming season. For the purpose of this projection I will look at him as a starter although I wouldn't be suprised if he took over somewhat of a Ramiro Mendoza role as a long reliever and spot starter, depending on the health of Pavano and Randy Johnson.

Igawa is listed at around 6'0-6'1 and 200-215 pounds he throws left handed and is 27 years old. Here is a look at some of his rates last season as well as over his career:
Career:
K/9: 8.49
HR/9: .84
BB/9: 2.85
ERA: 3.14

Last Season:
K/9: 8:35
HR/9: .73
BB/9: 2.11
ERA: 2.97

His 2006 was a very very good season as he improved on most of his rates. His career K rate is higher due primarily to 2004 where he struck out 10 batters per 9 IP. That was his only season over 9. To figure out how Igawa will make the transition i will look at players who came over from the Japanese leagues to the MLB and look at how their rates changed between the two leagues. I tried to stick to pitchers who had a substantial amount of innings in both Japan and the US. Unfortunately I cannot get HR totals for a lot of the Japanese players so I will not be able to analyze that stat.



So if we apply those changes to Igawa's numbers from last season we get these rates for his MLB equivalent:

K/9: 7.07
BB/9: 1.98
ERA: 3.72

That would be awesome as our number five starter. This method is obviously not perfect as it doesnt consider how different a lot of these pitchers were. At first glance I would expect the walks to be a little worse. I am still very confused how on the average the Japanese pitchers walks actually decreased. That one boggles me a bit. Another thing to be a little leery of is that Igawa gave up a decent amount of HR's in his time in Japan. To get a better prospective on what can be expected lets look at what some other people projected for Igawa:

SG using CHONE
4.44 ERA 7.35 K/9 2.97 BB/9 1.18 HR/9

Sturgeon General
4.15 ERA 7.48 K/9 2.55 BB/9 1.19 HR/9

They project worse ERA's, although still respectable, our K rates seem to be close and their walk numbers seem to be a lot more realistic. So overall lets take a rough average of all the numbers and say 4.15 era 7.30 K/9 2.5 BB/9 1.0 HR/9. Number five starters dont normally get as many innings as the top of the rotation guys. So lets say he gets 30 starts next year. For arguments sake lets also say he gets 6.333 innings a start. That would put his raw numbers at this:

30 GS 190 IP 4.15 ERA 154 K 53 BB 21 HR

On this Yankee team that could easily get him 17-18 wins. So after doing this whole excercise I am a little more optimistic on Igawa then I was when I came in. He could be a very good pickup. He cost half as much as Matsuzaka and seems like he will be at least half the pitcher Dice-K will be. I could see him putting numbers up similar to Pettite's first time with the Yanks which no Yankee fan would not like.

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