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May 17, 2012
Resident Fantasy Genius
Catching Up With International Imports
Over the offseason, I spent a good deal of time writing about what to expect from the various international players Major League Baseball would be importing. It’s been a while since we’ve seen so many imports with the potential to have fantasy value come over in one offseason, so there was a lot to be excited about. Let’s check in on how these players are doing in the early goings, compared to our winter expectations for them.
Yu Darvish | Texas Rangers | SP
To date, Darvish has fit this description to a tee. Through eight starts, Darvish has posted a 26 percent strikeout rate (19 percent league average) and a 12 percent walk rate (8 percent league average). His stuff is as filthy as advertised, and his arsenal is as diverse; Brooks Baseball’s PITCHf/x classifications show Darvish with seven different pitches, and he appears to be throwing two different curveballs that are lumped into the same classification, bringing the total to eight. He throws hard, keeps hitters off balance, and accrues plenty of whiffs. Of course, he misses his spots from time to time (as expected), but the transition has been very smooth overall. And when you’re striking out so many batters and getting groundballs at an above-average clip, below-average control is more than tolerable.
Conclusion: Darvish is exactly the pitcher we expected him to be. He should continue being near-excellent for the rest of 2012, pitching to 3.50 ERA or better.
Yoenis Cespedes | Oakland A’s | OF
Conclusion: The tools are there, but he’s having trouble adjusting, as expected, and is being exposed by major league pitchers. Expect some more power and speed, but O.co Coliseum will suppress the former a bit, and there will be plenty of strikeouts to accompany whatever homers and steals he musters. He’ll be solid, particularly in AL-only, but if you happened to draft him, you'll hope you sold in mid-April as I suggested.
Wie-Yin Chen | Baltimore Orioles | SP
His 82-mph slider is still noticeably softer than it was previously (84-85), however, which was one of the scouts’ concerns this offseason. While none of his secondary offerings is a true knockout pitch, he does have three of them (slider, curve, change) that rate as average, and his fastball looks like a plus pitch. With a fastball that gets tons of rise and has velocity slightly above average, Chen appears to have enough stuff to get by. Combine this with his as-advertised plus-control, and Chen should continue to be a solid play.
Conclusion: Chen isn’t a 2.66 ERA pitcher, but a 4.25 ERA will be plenty useful for AL-only owners. That might sound a little high given his quality 2.3 K/BB that shouldn’t worsen much, but he’s been an extreme fly-ball pitcher this year, and his repertoire suggests this will continue.
Norichika Aoki | Milwaukee Brewers | OF
Conclusion: Aoki was expected to be and has been NL-only roster filler, at best. Aside from perhaps a slightly higher batting average and a small handful of steals, don’t expect anything more from Aoki this season.
Tsuyoshi Wada | Baltimore Orioles | SP
Conclusion: The jury is still out on him.