Season Preview Part III: The Next Great Yankee

25 Mar

As said in Wild Card – Pineda, this is part II of my 2nd favorite RAB’s take on 2014 season preview :

There are three reasons why I think Tanaka can pretty damn successful right away for the Yankees. One, he pounds the zone. The scouting reports indicated as much and we’ve seen it so far in his two outings. Tanaka’s shown a very no nonsense approach, getting ahead in the count and not nibbling. He controls the at-bats when he’s on the mound. Two, Tanaka has two above-average offspeed pitches. We all know about the splitter …but he also throws a very good slider. It’s not as good as the splitter, but it’s not a show-me pitch either. Tanaka isn’t some two-pitch pitcher. Far from it.

And the third reason why I think he can be successful right away is his makeup and competitiveness, which people smarter than I have rated as through the roof. The grind of a baseball season is tough enough, but going through that grind for the first time in a new country with a new team in a new league against new batters in a new ballpark and yadda yadda yadda can be overwhelming. Does his makeup and competitive guarantee he will be successful? Of course not. But they do make me feel better about his chances.

On the other hand, there are some reasons to think Tanaka might not be so successful this season. First and foremost is the the five-day schedule rather than a seven-day setup. Tanaka had some big individual game workloads with Rakuten over the years but he also had two extra days of rest between each start. The Yankees won’t ask him to throw 130+ pitches each time out, but how will he adjust to pitching every fifth day instead of every seventh? Seems like everything is going well so far, but what happens in a few months when it’s 90 degrees with 90% humidity every start? It’s something to watch, no doubt about it.

Secondly, Tanaka likes to pitch up in the zone. That was the report coming over from Japan and he’s done it in his two spring starts so far. He had one high pitch smashed into the right-center field gap for a double and another hit out to deep right for a fly out in his last start, a ball that might have been gone in Yankee Stadium. Pitching up in the zone is not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself — it’s a great way to get swings and misses — but in the Bronx more fly balls mean more homers. I don’t think Tanaka will be Phil Hughes when it comes to fly balls and dingers or anything, but the potential for the ill-timed gopher ball is there.

I don’t think there is any way we can reasonably estimate what Tanaka will do this season. Can he give the team 180 innings of 3.50 ERA ball? I’d love that in his first year in the show. The first year has typically been a transition year for recent Japanese imports with the second year being the big breakout, so I’d take that 180/3.50 performance no questions asked. Based on everything we’ve heard and the little bit we’ve seen, Tanaka has the tools to be an excellent starting pitcher in MLB. Not just good, but one of the top 20-25 pitchers in the game. There are more factors at play here than stuff and command though. The new culture and routine will affect his performance.

Given his age — Tanaka turned 25 in November, so he’ll spend the entire season at that age — the amount of money the team sunk into him, and the rest of the roster (both MLB and MiLB), I think Tanaka is the single most important player in the organization. Not necessarily for 2014, but going forward. He’s not the only one trying to make a transition, you know. The Yankees themselves are transitioning out of the dynasty years with Mariano Rivera retired and Derek Jeter following him after the season. Tanaka is the key player going forward, the young cornerstone player they can build around in the future. That’s a lot of responsibility and his first step towards becoming the next great Yankees begins this year.

 

要。點。概。譯

三個原因讓我相信Tanaka在2014年可以立刻很威

一,他投好球,球數領先,不投邊邊角角。他站上投手丘就會控制被打擊球數。

二,他有兩種平均水準之上的變化球,其中之一是大家都知道的指叉球,但他滑球也投得很好,雖然沒有指叉球來得好,但他的滑球不是投投看而已,所以Tanaka並非只是兩種球種的投手,完全不是那樣。

三,他的性情和競爭力。整個球季是很磨人費勁的,第一次到一個陌生的國家,加入新的球隊、新的聯盟,面對新的打者、新球場等等等,都是很容易被擊垮的。Tanaka的性情和競爭力能保證他成功嗎?當然不能,但這樣的個性確實讓我覺得他成功的機會大多了。

 

不過也有一些原因預估Tanaka這一季表現不會很好
一,也是最重要的,五天輪值而不是七天輪值。春訓他似乎調適的很好,但幾個月之後當溫度上升到華氏90度(攝氏32度)、相對溼度90%時出賽先發呢?這毫無疑問地值得觀察。
二,Tanaka喜歡投高球進好球帶,他上次出賽時,被擊出中右外野空檔二壘安打以及右外野深遠高飛球接殺(這在洋基球場有可能是全壘打)。投高球進好球帶本身不是壞事,很容易讓打者揮空,但在洋基球場,越多高飛球表示越多全壘打,我不認為Tanaka被擊出高飛球和全壘打的數量會跟Hughes一樣多,但不湊巧可能被長打的機會的確存在。

 

我不認為有任何方式可以合理預測Tanaka今年的表現。第一年通常都是日本職棒選手來到大聯盟轉換的一年,第二年才是爆發年,所以如果他能有180局、3.50自責分率,毫無疑問可接受。根據我們所聽到、看到的,Tanaka有成為極佳大聯盟投手的武器,不僅僅是好投手,而是前25大投手之一。當然原因不只是球威和控球而以,新的文化和新的常規慣例都會影響他的表現。

考慮到Tanaka的年紀(Tanaka在11月剛過25歲生日)、洋基對他的投資、以及整個球隊的成員(包含小聯盟),我認為他是整個洋基最重要的選手,不一定說是2014年最重要,而是之後。你知道的,不單單Tanaka自己正試著做轉變,洋基也在Mo和Jeter相繼退休後做變換。Tanaka是未來的重要成員,年輕選手的中心要角。那樣責任是很重大的,而他成為下一個偉大洋基球員的第一步在今年開始。

 

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