New York Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka will not be heading to San Diego this Tuesday but the question is: should he be?
No, New York Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka’s latest outing against the Cleveland Indians wasn’t the prettiest of outings but his overall numbers still present a case for the righty to be presented a ticket to San Diego.
During the first half of 2016, the Japanese native is the exclusive Yankees’ starting pitcher to pitch over 100 innings (116.2) this season.
Entering the break a year ago, Tanaka had recorded merely 67 innings due to time spent on the disabled list. Through 17 starts in 2015, Tanaka was at 108.2 innings. Now that we have seen a full half with the Yankees’ ace on the mound, we can say he is well worth the $155-million New York invested in him.
Entering Sunday’s start at Progressive Field, Tanaka’s earned run average (3.12) ranked fifth among American League starters with at least 80 innings of work under their belt.
Among the nine starting pitchers that were given roster spots for the 87th All-Star game, his ERA sat fifth, his home runs given up per nine innings (.72) was the second-best, and his walk percentage (4.4%) ranked atop the stars.
When we take a deeper look past the numbers that show up on typical graphics, Tanaka actually makes the case for being one of the best starting pitchers in baseball.
First, let’s take a look at his SIERA score. This sabermetric stat aims to answer the question: what is the underlying skill level of this pitcher?
According to Fangraphs, the founder of this statistic, SIERA takes more intercommunication and quadratic terms into account when coming to its determinations, treats starters and relievers adversely, and changes for run environment. To put into simpler terms, the SIERA stat does an even better job at examining pitching skills.
Tanaka’s 3.83 score sits second across American League All-Stars.
The next stat to shift our focus to is Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP). This statistic estimates what a pitcher’s earned run average would resemble over a given period of time if the pitcher were to have experienced league average results on balls in play and league average timing (definition by Fangraphs).
Tanaka’s FIP leading up to his latest start (3.24) also sat second among the nine AL starting pitchers given invites to San Diego.
Next, we shift focus to the RAR statistic which is interpreted by ProRank.net as the “average performance for a given position” and used to produce similar-scale connections between pitchers.
Tanaka’s 27.3 RAR also sits second among All-Stars. To shorten my point, the 27-year old’s WAR (overall value) ranked second, his BABIP ranked fifth, and his BIP-Wins ranked second among All-Stars.
The bottom line is, sabermetric statistics tell us that Corey Kluber was the only starting pitcher in the American League that was more effective than Tanaka was in the first half.
Sure, the voters (AKA: the basic fan) don’t look this deep when they make their selections and only focus on the wins, ERA, and strikeouts, categories in which Tanaka sits fifth or worse among All-Stars. However, the numbers that demonstrate the effectiveness of the best starter on the Yankees’ staff doesn’t lie.
Although there are snubs year in and year out during MLB’s All-Star selections and he can’t pitch anyway after getting the start for the Yankees on Sunday, this year’s midsummer classic should have featured a little bit of Tanaka Time. And you can be sure he’ll be out to prove just how much he deserved it throughout the second half.