The thought of Yu Darvish, a declining, over-rated barely .500 pitcher possibly replacing Kenta Maeda in the Dodgers’ starting rotation is very depressing. As I wrote after the trade, giving up power hitting Willie Calhoun, who strikes out just about 10% of the time while hitting for average as well as hitting home runs, plus two other young farmhands, was a major mistake that will do little to help the team achieve its World Championship goal of this year, and will in ten years be looked back upon in the same light as those miserable trades that gave away the likes of Pedro Martinez and Mike Piazza.
After a slow start to 2017, Maeda has been lights out over the past months, and his performance last night, seven shutout innings allowing only two hits, was indicative of his
talent and his importance to the Dodgers’ rotation. As I described a couple of days ago, while Darvish began his major league career on a high note with two solid seasons, those were now quite awhile ago, and looking at his recent performances shows a very different pitcher, one who has complied a 6-9 won-lost record over this season, with an ERA over 5.00 for his last dozen starts and whose team has won only one of his last eight decisions.
Maeda has been in the majors only two season, but a comparison of his record with Darvish over that time period is very revealing.
Less often injured than Darvish, Maeda has more games and a few more innings pitched, AND he has given up less hits, less walks and less runs per inning. The most telling stat of all, though, is the one that counts the most, maybe the only one that REALLY counts, the won-lost record, and it’s not even close between the two, with Maeda 26-15 over his two-year major league career, while Darvish has gone 13-14 through 2016 and 2017
This is the savior, the necessary piece to fit into and take over the rotation, and lead the Dodgers to the promised land?
Have people gone nuts?
Remember, Willie Calhoun, the main guy given up for Darvish is one of the best young hitting prospects in the high minors, though admittedly a less than stellar defensive player whose ultimate major league position is yet to be determined. A second baseman now, most experts do not think that can be his future in the majors, but there is little doubt about his offense. A lot of Triple-A players hit for a solid average and impressive power stats, but the key to Calhoun’s future is the fact that he seldom strikes out. See this comparison of Calhoun’s minor league stats with those of Dodgers’ 2017 phenom Cody Bellinger, who has set the world of baseball on fire with his hitting:
This season, Bellinger has come to the plate 316 times for the Dodgers and he has struck out 96 times. While at Oklahoma City before his call-up, he struck out another 22 times in 77 at bats, for a total for the year of 118 strike outs in 393 at bats. Calhoun, in 418 at bats at Oklahoma City this season struck out 50 times, and over this season and last in Triple-A and Double-A he struck out only 115 times in 978 at bats.
You do not find young hitters, let alone young power hitters, that don’t strike out, but Calhoun is one of them.
Darvish is a flashy figment of the imagination, a guy who swooped into the major leagues
amidst international hype, did well for a short time, and who then fell into the pit of mediocrity, one of dozens of ok major league starters, but NOT a star, NOT a number one starter, not even a real number two starter, certainly not on a contender, and NOT on major league baseball’s best team.
Oh, the folly of it all!