I’ve come to the point where I’m worried about my three-run average.
Nippon Professional Baseball has a strong pitcher’s strikeout phenomenon. The average ERA per three runs is also average. The fact that even the 3-run average is being threatened is a huge crisis.
This is the story of Masahiro Tanaka (35, Rakuten), who was once revered as a “child of God” in the Japanese professional baseball world.
Tanaka was the best pitcher in Japan.
In his prime, he won every title imaginable.먹튀검증
He won the Sawamura Award, Japan’s highest honour for pitchers, twice (2011 and 2013).
He even moved to the American Major Leagues and became the ace of the New York Yankees, the most prestigious club in baseball.
Today, however, Tanaka is a below-average pitcher. The media, which had been following his every move since he returned to Japan for the 2021 season, has stopped following him.
The only time we see him is when he’s announced as a starter or in game results.
In terms of performance, there’s not much to say.
In nine appearances this season, Tanaka is 3-3 with a 3.96 ERA.
In total, he has thrown 52.1 innings, allowing 24 runs (23 earned) on 56 hits (5 home runs) with 35 strikeouts and 11 walks.
His BABIP is 0.279 and his WHIP is 1.28, which isn’t great. His strikeout-to-walk ratio of 3.18 is nothing to sneeze at.
His ERA, which hovers around the four-run mark, is the most noticeable. Once again, an ERA in the three-run range is only average in Nippon Professional Baseball, a league with a high pitch count.
Anything above four is considered below average. That’s where Tanaka is right now.
Tanaka’s ERA is 12th in the league, but that’s not because he’s a good pitcher, it’s because he hasn’t pitched a lot of innings due to the long intervals between starts. He is second from the back among pitchers who have pitched a full inning.
The main reason is that his pitches have declined. They can’t overpower hitters with their power anymore.
As one Japanese baseball commentator put it, “In the past, Tanaka would switch gears in crunch time and throw the ball at a higher level. He would get out of trouble with a harder, heavier ball, but you can’t expect that anymore. Tanaka no longer has that ability. He’s moulding his pitches to take batters off their timing with a savvy mix of pitches. I wouldn’t call it successful yet. He needs to let go of his old flamboyance. You can’t progress if you’re stuck in a rut,” he said bitterly.
Tanaka posted a mythical 24 wins and no losses in the 2013 season. The nickname “God’s Child” was not made up.
It’s the impermanence of time, and we don’t see the same Tanaka anymore. Rather, it is the reality of Tanaka that he is on the brink of falling below average.
Can Tanaka overcome the crisis and become an upgrade with his new pitching style? This will be a very important test this season.