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9/13/1980 (36 y, 5 m, 14 d)
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Matsuzaka has signed a contract with the Softbank Hawks of Japan's Pacific League, the Associated Press reports. (12/4/2014)
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(Click Year to Expand /
Year in Review:
Matsuzaka’s third season in the U.S. was an injury-shortened disappointment. He had two long stints on the DL (37 days from April to May and 87 days in June to September) with a shoulder strain – an injury he dealt with in 2008, as well. As a result, he pitched just 59 innings, and they were not pretty. He had an ERA of 5.76, partially as a result of an unlucky .385 BABIP, but also very high walk (4.55 K/9) and homer (1.52 HR/9) rates. The walks have always been a problem (and are actually down from more than 5 BB/9 in 2008) and the all the homers came because he is an extreme fly-ball pitcher (only 34% of his balls in play are on the ground). On the other hand, he still struck out batters at a good rate (8.19 K/9).
The Year Ahead:
Matsuzaka spent 24 days on the DL in 2008 and 124 days in 2009 with shoulder problems, so he comes into 2010 with significant injury risk. When healthy, he strikes out a good number of batters, but has problems with both walks and homers, elevating his WHIP and ERA. Assuming he pitches 150 relatively healthy innings, he should get around 10 wins and 140 strikeouts with an ERA of 4.20 and WHIP of 1.40. Matsuzaka’s unlucky, BABIP-inflated 2009 ERA and the injury history could cause him to be undervalued and fall in many drafts. He will provide a good number of strikeouts and, on a team with a great offense and bullpen, a good number of wins. But be sure that you are aware that part of the reason you are getting him cheap is the injury-based uncertainty. (Dave Allen)
In light of 2009's lost season, Matsuzaka's mediocre performance in 2010 has to be considered something of a bounceback. After starting the season with a Triple-A stint, he took the ball every fifth day aside from a DL disruption in June. Dice-K was a six-inning pitcher in 2010, as he threw 153.2 innings in 25 starts and only made it through the seventh six times. Command was again an issue, with a rough 4.33 BB/9 rate falling right into line with his career norms. That said, his FIP was a respectable 4.05 and his peripherals were more or less in line with his 2008 performance, when he went 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA. What was the difference? He was a little less fortunate on BABIP, at .292 versus .267 in '08, but the real difference was performance with men on base. In 2008, he stranded 80.6% of runners, but in 2010 this number fell to 67.2%. In 2008, his splits with men on base were better across the board than they were in 2010, but WHIP is particularly dramatic -- 1.15 in 2008 to 1.40 in 2010. It's unrealistic to expect Matsuzaka to rack up a large number of innings, but if he can regain the form he showed in '08 with runners on base, he could post a respectable ERA and a solid win total. (Patrick Newman)
The Quick Opinion:
We know what we're getting with Matsuzaka at this point. Or do we?
From henceforth, we shall refer to him as Dice-BB. All kidding aside, Matsuzaka underwent Tommy John surgery near midseason in 2011, and those arm woes likely contributed largely to his inability to locate the strike zone. As a result, Matsuzaka not not only enters a contract year in 2012 unhealthy -- he won't likely be ready until June or later -- but even with some doubt surrounding his good seasons so far. He managed an 18-3 mark in 2008 with a 2.90 ERA, but that came with a 4.64 xFIP, largely due to his unsustainable ability to strand his baserunners that season. He's more than a useful starter when he's right, but nobody's entirely sure if that'll happen again after his arm woes. A good half-season with Boston will go a long way in determining his long-term prognosis in the states. (Brandon Warne)
The Quick Opinion:
He won't be ready until mid-season at the soonest, and as we often see with arm injuries, he may not even be ready then -- after the recovery period comes the period of no control. Matsuzaka didn't have much of that when he was injured, either. Stay away this year, but if he shows promise late, maybe target him at the end of your 2013 draft, depending on where he lands in free agency.
For the foreseeable future, whenever anyone cites the downside risk of signing a Japanese pitcher, Matsuzaka's name will be at the top of the list. The Red Sox paid more than $100 million for his services, and all they got was 10.5 WAR. Even in the new free-agent market where wins cost more than they used to, it would be hard to justify that contract. What is interesting is that research points that a pitcher's second year back from Tommy John surgery is actually the year to expect him to pitch like normal, so there is a chance that Matsuzaka bounces back this year. Unfortunately, we may not see that stateside, as he is garnering little interest. And based on his track record, it's not hard to see why. While expectations should have been tempered for his 2012 return, he was downright awful. He made 11 starts, and only three of them could be considered a success. In the other eight, he allowed at least four runs, and never retired more than 16 hitters (or if you prefer, 5.1 innings). In five of those eight, he pitched 3.2 innings or less and allowed at least five runs. So while he may rebound this year, what exactly is he going to rebound to? (Paul Swydan)
The Quick Opinion:
Finally free from his contract, the Red Sox waived Matsuzaka a not-so-fond farewell, and the now 32-year-old righty may head back to Japan.
It seems like a lifetime ago that Dice-K dominated the 2006 World Baseball classic and subsequently landed a gigantic contract to bring his talents to Boston. His first season didn’t live up to expectations, but was solid enough, but his second season wasn't quite as good. Always prone to control fits, the former sensation was beset by injury and sub-par performance and has thus failed to be a factor since 2008. Dice-K can still strike guys out, but that’s about all he has to offer. Matsuzaka found his way into the starting rotation for the Mets toward the end of last season and, after a few disastrous outings, actually finished the season with four relatively strong outings. That prompted the Mets to take a chance on offering him a one-year deal iand a chance at a role in the back end of their rotation, but there’s no reason to expect him to have value in virtually any league as anything beyond a potential start starter to an owner desperate for strikeouts. (Derek Ambrosino)
The Quick Opinion:
Once a full-on sensation turned highly competent, yet flawed, major league pitcher, Dice-K has not been fantasy relevant since the Bush administration. He made seven starts for the Mets last season, the first three of which were awful and the last four of which were surprisingly effective. There’s little reason to expect him to provide anything useful beyond an above average strikeout rate.
In 2014, Dice-K did his best Wade Miller impression. Okay…Zach Duke impression: starter turned successful reliever. His strikeout rate was the best it’s been since his rookie year. His ground-ball rate was the best it’s ever been. At 34 years old next year, would it have continued? We will never know. Dice-K signed a contract with the Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League. (
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Updated: Monday, February 27, 2017 3:32 AM ET
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