Takahashi Can Start

Hisanori Takahashi has proven himself to be both a versatile and talented pitcher in his short time with the New York Mets. The 35-year-old Japanese rookie has a 3.95 ERA and a 3.79 FIP in 107 innings split between the bullpen and the starting rotation. Between the two, Takahashi has compiled 1.4 WAR and shown that he is worth of a full time MLB starting role.

Takahashi’s agent, Peter Greenberg, released a statement that suggested that Takahashi may prefer a partciular role and that said role is a determinant in which team Takahashi signs with in 2011:

“He has obviously established himself in the major leagues. He liked it in New York and would love the chance to take the next step here. But we’ll have to wait until the season ends to sit down with him to see what he’s thinking for next year as far as if he has a preference to any particular role.”

Given that Takahashi spent most of his years with the Yomiuri Giants in the NPB as a starting pitcher, and that he has managed a 2.6 K/BB as a starter in the MLB, the “particular role” and “next step” suggested by Greenberg is probably the role of Major League starter. Takahashi has posted a 5.01 ERA as a starter in 2010, but that is mostly due to a high HR/FB rate – his 2.6 K/BB rate in that role is effectively equal to his K/BB rate as a reliever.

Even with the high amount of home runs allowed, Takahashi has still posted roughly half a win as a MLB starter in 64.1 innings. At that rate, he would be a 1.5 WAR pitcher over a full season, and with regression over his HR rate., there’s no reason to believe Takahashi wouldn’t be an above average pitcher. One needs only to look at his success as a reliever to see how: in 42 relief innings, Takahashi has struck out 54 batters while walking only 18 and allowing only one home run. Takahashi has been nothing short of fantastic in his relief role, compiling nearly one whole win above replacement in 42 innings in the role.

The fact that Takahashi has been so successful in the relief role seems to suggest that he remains there, but the only real difference between his perfomance as a starter and as a reliever appears to be the amount of home runs allowed. It is likely that Takahashi (or any other pitcher, for that matter) would allow more home runs as a starter than as a reliever, but not to the extent that Takahashi has in his one major league season: a 1.54 HR/9 as a starter against a 0.18 HR/9 as a reliever. It’s far more likely that Takahashi would allow a 1.00 HR/9 as a starter like he has overall this season. With that kind of home run line, his 2.6 K/BB would play quite well in a starting role.

The fact that Hisanori Takahashi has given up a multitude of home runs as a starter belies the kind of season that he is having. In reality, Takahashi has shown that he has no problem retiring Major League hitters. Yes, he may be more suited to a relief role – in reality, most pitchers are – but there’s certainly reason to believe that he can succeed in a starting role. If that is indeed the case, teams should target him as a starter – not only would Takahashi be more likely to sign, but the increased amount of innings would lead to more value added to the team as well.



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James Kannengieser
Member
5 years 9 months ago

Spot on. Replacing him in the rotation with Pat Misch was a bad choice. Tak2 can pitch.

theperfectgame
Member
theperfectgame
5 years 9 months ago

We’ll miss him next year (assuming the Mets don’t re-sign him).

And to add insult to injury, there’s a distinct possibility that he’ll end the season in the Type B neighborhood despite having only played 1 season. But since he doesn’t have 6 years of ML service, the Mets will have no opportunity to receive draft pick compensation. I believe his contract stipulates that the Mets must non-tender him at the end of the season, effectively making him a free agent. And as such, they will be unable to extend the necessary arbitration offer required to receive the comp pick. (Though if I’m wrong about this, someone please let me know.)

Ugh. With the Mets, even when things go right they don’t go right.

Jason
Guest
Jason
5 years 9 months ago

If you look at Tak’s stats the 2nd and 3rd time through the order, you realize that he cannot be effective as a starter. The HR rate increase as a starter was batters adjusting to his unusual delivery over the course of the game.

1st PA: .229 BA, 0 HR
2nd PA: .293 BA, 7 HR
3rd PA: .371, 4 HR

Granted his BABIP increased as well (.293, .303, .413), but that is probably partially due to batters getting better swings on the ball.

By having him in the bullpen, you limit the number of batters who even see his delivery first hand and don’t have to deal with in game adjustments. His line for 1st PA as a RP are .179 BA, 0 HR, .255 BABIP.

Bill
Guest
Bill
5 years 9 months ago

This is interesting. I’m going to check this info out for other starters. My bet is that all starters are hit harder as the game goes on. Probably due equal parts to hitters adjusting to the pitcher and the pitcher beginning to fatigue.

lincolndude
Guest
5 years 9 months ago

This is true for all pitchers. Starters get worse each time through the rotation.

hazel
Guest
hazel
5 years 9 months ago

you don’t understand BABIP if you think a .413 on a ludicrously small sample is indicative of some inability to face the same batters that has never before been demonstrated to exist.

J.P.
Guest
J.P.
5 years 9 months ago

I think the bigger issue is he just can’t consistently get righties out. He’s not a LOOGY, but as a starter I watched teams just stack their line-ups with righties. He’s probably best suited for a true swingman role.

He’d be a good pick-up for the Mariners, in that stadium with that outfield D, as I think the Mets will pass on making him a starter to rush Mejia to the bigs full time next year.

Sean
Guest
Sean
5 years 9 months ago

I think you have to take his age into consideration as well – he’s going to be 36 next year. There aren’t a lot of quality starters over 33, and I’m not sure if you can count on him replicating his stats next year when he’s a year older and his usage will increase.

81
Guest
81
5 years 9 months ago

So is there an actual sabermetric device in place that normalizes differences between hr/9 rates in relief/starting roles or are we assuming that 1.54 and .18 will revert to somewhere around 1.0?
That seems like a long jump to that conclusion when on the surface he seems highly suited for a relief role.

Nny
Guest
5 years 9 months ago

Yeah, I really don’t get this

His FIP as a starter is 4.62; his xFIP is 4.46

When almost half your batted balls are fly balls, you’re going to give up a ton of HRs.

dorasaga
Guest
dorasaga
5 years 9 months ago

I must somehow agree. We can tell that Tak’s limited skill creates all these flying mess (runs scored as a starter). Isn’t there a SABR study on average velocity per pitch correlated to flyball/HR rate?

dorasaga
Guest
dorasaga
5 years 9 months ago

Let’s not forget Uehara… Takahashi will turn 36. Granted, he’s more healthy than Uehara, but the fact that his fastball might only become slower and not faster next year, and the consequential HR rate will probably exceed an actual MLB manager’s threshold, I would say:

Keep him as a reliever, as Uehara does.

Brian Mangan
Guest
5 years 9 months ago

I love Takahashi, and I love the analysis — but I also disagree with the article’s conclusion. I think 81 and nny above have both identified the issue. There still are things which we cannot quantify with statistics, and the fact that Tak doesn’t have enough stuff to beat the same hitters when they see him two or three times seems to be one of those things. I think he’d make an adequate starter — certainly better than a Misch or other below average options — but he’s not nearly as effective as I think you believe him to be based on the cited statistics.

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