In case you're unfamiliar with it, Oliver is the name of The Hardball Times' player projection system. You know about player projection systems. There's Oliver, and PECOTA, and ZiPS, and Marcel, and...
Player projection systems are used to try to project players. Wow! And, understandably, a player many people have tried to project over this past offseason is Yu Darvish. Yu Darvish is a big money starting pitcher coming over from Japan and joining the Rangers' rotation. How is Darvish going to do? Please, somebody tell us, how is Darvish going to do?
Projection systems love Yu Darvish. Oliver certainly loves Yu Darvish. Which is what this article is about. Here, we have Brian Cartwright trying to figure out Darvish's best projection, using Oliver. Cartwright takes a very thorough approach. Towards the end:
Examining several sets of comparable pitchers shows an expected ERA for Darvish anywhere from 2.78 to 3.40, which is from excellent down to merely very good, but no recent major league pitchers have the combination of Darvish's expected home runs, walks and strikeouts. Looking at those comparables and Darvish’s pitch metrics give me a personal opinion: I would compare him to Felix Hernandez with more strikeouts or Ubaldo Jimenez with fewer walks.
Felix Hernandez with more strikeouts or Ubaldo Jimenez with fewer walks. Darvish sounds like the perfect pitcher.
Now, ultimately, all Darvish projections at the moment are built around Darvish's statistical performance in Japan. There's no alternative. Projections have to use those numbers, because there aren't any other numbers. And we have a lot of questions about statistics put up in Japan. They don't always translate well, and they don't always translate as you'd expect. One also notes that the Japanese leagues had a very pitcher-friendly 2011, as offense was reduced by a significant degree. There are issues, introducing a lot of volatility to projections.
But what we know about Yu Darvish is pretty much all good. He's young. He has excellent stuff. He has solid command. He realistically could not have posted better numbers in Japan than he did. Yu Darvish might not succeed in the States, but all the evidence we have so far suggests that Yu Darvish should succeed in the States. Of course Oliver and other projection systems love Yu Darvish. There isn't much not to love.