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Yu Darvish

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Yu Darvish

Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters — No. 11
Starting pitcher
Born: August 16, 1986 (1986-08-16) (age 23)
Habikino, Osaka, Japan
Bats: RightThrows: Right
Professional debut
NPB: June 15, 2005 for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters
NPB statistics
(through 2009 season)
Win-Loss    63-24
ERA    2.20
Strikeouts    752
Teams
Career highlights and awards
Last update: 16 May 2009
Medal record
Competitor for  Japan
Men’s Baseball
World Baseball Classic
Gold2009 Los AngelesTeam

Yu Darvish (also spelled Yū Darvish) (Japanese: ダルビッシュ 有, Persian: یو درویش, full name Yu Darvishsefad;[1] born August 16, 1986, in Habikino, Osaka) is a starting pitcher for the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters.

Darvish pitched in the 2008 Beijing Olympics as well as the 2009 World Baseball Classic as a member of the Japanese national team.[2] At just 23 years of age, he is already considered the Fighters' staff ace as well as one of the best pitchers in all of Japanese professional baseball.[3][4]

Contents

Early life

Darvish was born in Habikino, Osaka, to an Iranian father, Farzad Darvishsefad, and a Japanese mother, Ikuyo.[5] His parents met at Eckerd College, a liberal arts school in St. Petersburg, Florida, where his father played for the college soccer team as well as the Iranian national team.[6][7] His grandfather was a travel agent in Iran, and sent Farzad to the United States in 1977 to attend high school in Berkshire County, Massachusetts, where he also raced competitively in motocross.

Darvish began playing baseball in second grade and led his team to the quarter-finals of the national tournament as well as a third-place finish in the international tournament as a member of the Habikino Boys. He was scouted by over 50 high schools while in junior high, but opted to attend Tohoku High School, a noted baseball powerhouse that produced players such as former Seattle Mariners and Yokohama BayStars closer Kazuhiro Sasaki and current Atlanta Braves reliever Takashi Saito, in northern Sendai.

High school career

Darvish became Tohoku High's ace pitcher by the fall of his first year (the equivalent of tenth grade in the United States) and led his team to four straight appearances in national tournaments held at Koshien Stadium in his junior and senior years, twice in the National High School Baseball Invitational Tournament held in the spring and twice in the National High School Baseball Championship in the summer.

Darvish led his team to the finals of the 85th National High School Baseball Championship in the summer of 2003, but gave up four runs to Joso Gakuin High School (whose No. 3 hitter, second baseman Katshiko Saka, currently plays for the Hanshin Tigers), the Ibaraki champions, in a complete game loss.

Darvish attracted national attention when he pitched a no-hitter against Kumamoto Technical High School in the first round of the 76th National High School Baseball Invitational Tournament as a senior on March 26 2004.[8] Though the team lost in the quarter-finals despite stellar outings by Darvish and sidearmer Kenji Makabe (currently with Honda Motor Company's industrial league team), many saw Darvish as the best high school pitcher in the country by that time. He pitched 12 games and put up a 7-3 record with 87 strikeouts in 92 innings pitched and a 1.47 ERA in his four national tournament appearances, and posted a 1.10 ERA for his high school career, striking out 375 in 332 1/3 innings (67 appearances).

2004 draft

Darvish was scouted extensively by Major League teams, such as the then-Anaheim Angels and Atlanta Braves, even while in junior high. As he entered his senior year of high school, the Angels, Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets had all expressed interest in signing him[9], but Darvish's intent remained to play for a Japanese professional team instead.

Darvish was considered one of the best high school pitchers in the 2004 NPB amateur draft along with Yokohama Senior High School right-hander Hideaki Wakui (later picked by the Seibu Lions) and Akita Municipal Akita Commercial High School right-hander Tsuyoshi Sato (Hiroshima Toyo Carp). While the Fighters, Carp, Chunichi Dragons, Fukuoka Daiei Hawks and Orix BlueWave all considered selecting Darvish with their first-round pick in the final months, the Fighters were one of the few teams that chose not to forgo the first round in exchange for signing a college or industrial league player prior to the draft. This enabled them to land Darvish with their first-round pick in the November 17 draft[10], signing him to a base salary of 15 million yen, a signing bonus of 100 million yen and additional performance-based incentives (the equivalent of what a first-round college or industrial league player would normally receive) on December 17.

Professional career

2005

Darvish received further publicity when he was caught smoking in a pachinko parlor on an off-day during his first Spring Training in 2005, despite not being old enough to legally smoke nor to gamble at the time. The incident prompted his high school to suspend him, and the Fighters to place him under probation for an indefinite period of time and order him to participate in community service.[11]

Despite his suspension, Darvish made his professional debut later that season, taking the mound in an interleague game against the Carp on June 15. Though he gave up back-to-back solo home runs in the ninth, he pitched 8 0/3 innings on those two runs alone and earned the win[12], becoming the 12th pitcher in NPB history to earn a win in one's professional debut as a rookie straight out of high school. He recorded his first complete game win on August 6 against the Lions and his first complete game shutout on September 18, holding the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles to just two hits and becoming only the 14th pitcher in NPB history to throw a complete game shutout as a rookie out of high school. He finished the season with a 5-5 record in 14 starts, throwing 94 1/3 innings with an ERA of 3.53.

2006

Darvish had a breakout year in 2006, compiling a 12-5 record with 115 strikeouts and a 2.89 ERA.[13][14] In particular, he went 10-0 after May 30, playing a leading role in the Fighters' first Pacific League title since 1981 (his win streak lasted until April 14 of the following season, when it reached 12-0) and contributing to their first championship since 1961 in the Japan Series over the Dragons. Darvish was chosen to take the hill for the first game of each of the Pacific League playoffs, Japan Series, and the 2006 Asia Series (played between the champions of Japan, China, Taiwan, and South Korea at the end of the season). Darvish, then 20 years old, became the first pitcher to start a Japan Series game since 1987 while under the age of 21, and only the fifth pitcher in NPB history to win a Japan Series game at that age with his win in Game 5 of the series. He also won the Asia Series Most Valuable Player award.

2007

Darvish was named the Fighters' starter for their 2007 season starter, becoming only the fourth pitcher in franchise history (including the Fighters' years as the Senators and Flyers) to start a season opener within three years of graduating high school (the other three pitchers all started season openers as rookies). He struck out 14 over nine innings in a no-decision in his second start against the Lions on March 30 (the game ended a 2-2 tie in extra innings) and 14 again in a complete game win in his next start against the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks on April 7, becoming only the second pitcher in Japanese professional baseball history to strike out 14 or more batters in two consecutive starts.

Darvish went on to post a 15-5 record with a 1.82 ERA (falling just 0.003 points short of the league lead, which went to Chiba Lotte Marines left-hander Yoshihisa Naruse) for the year, limiting hitters to a .174 batting average against and leading the league with 210 strikeouts.[15] He led the Fighters to their second consecutive league title, winning both of his starts in the second round of the Climax Series (playoffs) against the Marines.[16][17]

Darvish took the mound in Game 1 of the Japan Series that followed on October 27 against the Dragons for the second straight year, pitching a 13-strikeout, complete game win in an intense pitchers' duel with then-Dragons ace Kenshin Kawakami (currently with the Atlanta Braves) and becoming only the third pitcher in Japan Series history to strike out 13 or more batters in a single game.[18] With the Fighters down 3-1 and facing elimination, Darvish started Game 5 on November 1 and held the Dragons to one run over seven innings while striking out 11. However, the Fighters had no answer for opposing right-hander Daisuke Yamai and closer Hitoki Iwase, failing to get a single man on base and allowing the first perfect game in Japan Series history. (However, the game was not an official perfect game according to NPB regulations, which state that a perfect game must be thrown by a single pitcher.) The Dragons won the game 1-0, charging Darvish with the loss and becoming Japan Series champions.[19] The 24 strikeouts that Darvish totaled in his two starts were the second-highest by any single pitcher in series history (and the highest in a series that went only five games).

Darvish was presented with both his first career Eiji Sawamura Award[20] (being the first to meet or exceed guidelines for the award in all seven categories in 14 years) and his first Most Valuable Player award following the season. He also won the Golden Glove and Best Nine awards that year.

On August 9, 2007, Darvish acknowledged reports of a relationship with the Japanese actress Saeko in a post-game interview. He also announced that they were planning to get married, and that Saeko was pregnant with their first child. The couple married in November 2007, in what Japanese tabloids reported was a shotgun wedding, and welcomed their first child on March 25, 2008.[21]

Darvish made his national team debut in the 2007 Asian Baseball Championship (which also functioned as the Asian qualifying tournament for the 2008 Beijing Olympics) against Chinese Taipei on December 3, 2007. Because Japanese law requires that a person holding dual citizenship choose a single nationality before their twenty-second birthday, Darvish had chosen to retain his Japanese citizenship so that he could play for the national team in the Olympics.[22]

On December 22, Darvish re-signed with the Nippon Ham Fighters for 200 million yen plus payment at piece rates, up 128 million yen from 2006. At 21 years old, Darvish became the youngest player in Japanese baseball history to reach the 200 million yen mark.

2008

In 2008, Darvish was named the Fighters' starter in the season opener for the second consecutive year, pitching a complete game shutout in that very game (the Fighters won 1-0). Even as his team struggled in the opening months of the season, Darvish continued to rack up wins at a pace that exceeded his own in the previous season. As the year went on, he and Eagles ace Hisashi Iwakuma emerged as the league leaders in both wins and ERA. On April 10, in their only match-up of the season, neither gave up a single hit through the first five innings. Iwakuma went the distance, throwing just 100 pitches and giving up just one run on three hits; yet Darvish topped this, throwing another complete game shutout on three hits and just 95 pitches in one of the best pitchers' duels of the season.[23]

While he did not pitch the way he had hoped in the Olympics, Darvish promptly put up a perfect 5-0 record with a 1.29 ERA and two complete games in the five starts upon returning to the Fighters, leading them to a playoff berth in a heated race against the Marines. While the Fighters failed to make the Japan Series, Darvish took the mound in two playoff games, giving up one run in a complete game win in one and pitching a complete game shutout in another. Although he lost out to Iwakuma (who put up an astonishing 21-4 record) in wins, he finished second in all three Triple Crown categories, finishing the season with a 16-4 record, 1.88 ERA[24] and 208 strikeouts. (It was his second straight year putting up an ERA under 2.00, throwing more than 200 innings, and striking out over 200 hitters despite missing time due to the Olympics.) Regardless, the Sawamura Award was presented to Iwakuma, and Darvish became just the second pitcher to clear the guidelines in all seven categories to not win the award (Suguru Egawa was the first in 1982).

Darvish took the mound in Game 1 of the first round of the Climax Series against the Orix Buffaloes on October 11, allowing nine hits but holding the team to one run while striking out 14 in a 4-1 complete game win.[25] He started Game 2 of the second round against the Saitama Seibu Lions on October 18 and pitched a complete game shutout in a 5-0 win[26], but the Fighters lost the series 4-2 and fell short of their third straight appearance in the Japan Series.

On December 1, Darvish re-signed with the Nippon Ham Fighters for 270 million yen plus payment at piece rates, up 70 million yen from 2007.

2009

Darvish started the Fighters' season opener for the third straight year in 2009, taking the mound in the game against the Eagles on April 3 in much-hyped match-up with the reigning Sawamura Award winner and World Baseball Classic teammate Hisashi Iwakuma. Darvish gave up three runs in the first inning but insisted on going the distance, giving up eight hits but allowing no runs from the second inning onward in a 121-pitch, complete game loss (Iwakuma held the Fighters to one run over six innings and was credited with the win).[27] He had a stellar outing on April 24, striking out six straight and 11 overall en route to a four-hit, complete game shutout (his first of the season) over the Buffaloes[28], following it up by holding the Lions to one run and striking out 11 over nine innings in a no-decision in a match-up with fellow 22-year-old ace Hideaki Wakui on May 1 (the Fighters lost 2-1 in extra innings).

On August 22, Darvish was taken off the active roster for the first time in his career due to injury. The Fighters classified it as "shoulder fatigue," and the deactivation came after a career-worst start against the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, in which he went 8 innings, but gave up 6 earned runs on 10 hits in a losing effort. He was reactivated on September 13 after recovering at farm team, but in his second start back a week later against the Orix Buffaloes, Darvish gave up a career-high 7 walks in 5 innings, even though he only gave up 2 runs. Three days later he was deactivated again due to a combination of discomfort in his shoulder and a sore back.

Darvish was activated again just in time for the 2009 Japan Series against the Central League champion Yomiuri Giants, and he pitched Game 2 on November 1. He went 6 innings, giving up 2 runs on 7 hits, and also striking out 7 Giants. He became the winning pitcher, and the team won 4-2. The Yomiuri Giants would go on and win the championship series 4 games to 1. After the Japan Series, It was revealed that Yu had stress fracture of the right hand forefinger. Darvish said he first experienced pain after practice on Oct. 28 but kept it to himself. Also, he was unable to fully use the lower part of his body due to hip pains.

Darvish was presented his second Most Valuable Player and Best Nine awards at the end of the season. He became only the third player to have won 2 MVP awards in their first 5 years in the NPB, joining Kazuhisa Inao and Ichiro Suzuki. However, he lost out on his second Sawamura Award to Saitama Seibu Lions ace Hideaki Wakui.

On December 9, Darvish re-signed with the Nippon Ham Fighters for 330 million yen, up 60 million yen from 2009. At 23, Darvish became the youngest player in Japanese baseball history to reach the 300 million yen mark, along with being the highest-paid pitcher in the Pacific League presently.[29]

International career

2008 Beijing Olympics

Named the ace of the Japanese national team by manager Senichi Hoshino in the 2008 Beijing Olympics[30], Darvish took the hill in Japan's first game of the preliminary round against Cuba on August 13, but was charged with the loss after giving up four runs in 4 innings[31]. The subpar outing caused Hoshino to lose faith in him and scratch Darvish from the semi-finals that he had penciled him in for, sending Darvish to the mound only in situations that would have no bearing on Japan's fate in the tournament. Darvish started the last game of the preliminary round against the United States on August 20 and was brought in in to mop up after the U.S. had taken a decisive lead in the bronze medal match, finishing the tournament 0-1 with a 5.14 ERA (albeit with 10 strikeouts in seven innings pitched).

2009 World Baseball Classic

Darvish pitched in the 2009 World Baseball Classic as the de facto ace of the Japanese national team[32], starting the opening game against China on March 5. He pitched four innings, allowing one walk and no hits and striking out three as Japan beat China 4-0. However, pitching in a Major League stadium for the first time in his career, he struggled in his second outing of the tournament against South Korea on March 17, throwing five innings and giving up three runs (two earned) on four hits and a walk and ultimately being charged with the loss.[33] His first career save would follow six days later, when he pitched the final inning of the semi-finals against the United States, yielding no runs and a single and striking out two as Japan won 9-4.[34]

Darvish came on in relief in the bottom of the ninth inning of the championship game against South Korea with Japan leading 3-2. He struck out his first batter, walked the next two, struck out his next, and then gave up a tying two-out single before finishing the inning with another strikeout. However, Japan scored two runs in the top of the tenth inning to regain a 5-3 lead, and after giving up a leadoff walk in the bottom of the inning, Darvish retired the next three batters (striking out two of them) to clinch Japan's second consecutive tournament title.[35]

Pitching style

Darvish is a right-handed pitcher who throws from a high three-quarters arm slot (nearly over the top) in a drop-and-drive motion[36] with a lanky frame, listed at 196 cm (6 ft 5 in) and 90 kg (198 lb). In NPB he throws a four-seam fastball that usually sits around 149 to 156 km/h (93 to 97 mph) and maxes out at 158 km/h (98 mph) as well as a hard slider with a vicious break.[37][38] He complements these two with a wide repertoire of secondary pitches, including a two-seam fastball (sometimes described as a shuuto), a curveball, forkball, cutter and changeup. He has also experimented with a knuckleball but very rarely uses it in games.

Prior to the 2006 season, Darvish's go-to pitch was a sinker, tending to rely more on his off-speed pitches than his fastball. After injuring his shoulder in a exhibition game start against the 2006 World Baseball Classic Japanese national team in February 2006 because of the strain the sinker had gradually been putting on his shoulder, he took the pitch out of his in-game repertoire and worked to develop his cutter until it became an equally effective pitch that would effectively replace the sinker. He has also succeeded in increasing his fastball velocity from year to year.

Other notes

  • Darvish is also known by the Persian and Arabic name Farid, meaning "unique".
  • Darvish established a humanitarian fund dedicated to the construction, installment, and maintenance of wells, well pumps, and rainwater storage facilities in developing countries called the "Yu Darvish Water Fund" in February 2007. He has announced plans to contribute to this fund by donating 100,000 yen each time he notches a regular season win. The fund is managed by the Japan Water Forum.
  • Darvish is the current spokesmodel for DyDo's D-1 COFFEE canned coffee line, succeeding former teammate Tsuyoshi Shinjo in this role.

Career statistics

Nippon Professional Baseball
YearAgeTeamWLW%GSCGSHOIPHRERHRBBKERAWHIPLgERA
200518Nippon Ham55.500142194.1973737748523.531.544.06
200619125.7062432149.2128554812641152.891.283.62
200720155.75026123207.212348429492101.820.833.57
200821164.80024102200.2136444211442081.880.903.90
200922155.750238218211836359451671.730.904.08
Career6324.7241113510834.1602220204482507522.201.02 

Bold indicates league leader; statistics current as of 31 July 2009

References

This article incorporates information from this version of the equivalent article on the Japanese Wikipedia.
  1. ^ [1] Caple, Jim. "Dice-K 2.0" - ESPN.com.
  2. ^ [2] "Darvish, young pitchers set to play vital role in WBC title defense" - The Japan Times.
  3. ^ [3] "2008 Pacific League Preview: Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters" - The Japan Times.
  4. ^ [4] "Japan's Yu Darvish keeps U.S. teams wishing and hoping" - Los Angeles Times.
  5. ^ [5] "Iconic ace Darvish pushes Japan’s boundaries" - Yahoo! Sports.
  6. ^ [6] "Iranian pitcher wins Series-in Japan" - Pezhvak Newspaper.
  7. ^ [7] "Iranian-Japanese High Schooler Darwish Making Impression" - The Baseball Guru.
  8. ^ [8] "Tohoku High's Darvish hurls no-hitter at Koshien" - The Japan Times.
  9. ^ [9] "Angels, Mets Seeking Some Iranian-Japanese Takeaway " - The Baseball Guru.
  10. ^ [10] "Nippon Ham picks 18-year-old Darvish" - The Japan Times.
  11. ^ [11] "Darvish faces school suspension over pachinko puffs" - The Japan Times.
  12. ^ [12] "Darvish earns win in first pro start as Fighters down Carp" - The Japan Times.
  13. ^ [13] "New Stage for Japan’s Rising Pitching Star " - The New York Times.
  14. ^ [14] "Young Nippon Ham hurler Darvish tipped to be top for a long time" - The Japan Times.
  15. ^ [15] "Darvish, Naruse square off in marquee Game 5 matchup" - The Japan Times.
  16. ^ [16] "Darvish fires Fighters to win" - The Japan Times.
  17. ^ [17] "Fighters move to Japan Series" - The Japan Times.
  18. ^ [18] "Darvish, Seguignol key Hammies' win" - The Japan Times.
  19. ^ [19] "Dragons clinch Japan Series" - The Japan Times.
  20. ^ [20] "Darvish receives prestigious accolade" - The Japan Times.
  21. ^ [21] "Baseball player Darvish and actress Saeko have son" - Japan Today.
  22. ^ [22] "Darvish decides on nationality" - The Japan Times.
  23. ^ [23] "Darvish outshines Iwakuma" - The Japan Times.
  24. ^ [24] "Buffs, Fighters ready for PL Climax Series showdown" - The Japan Times.
  25. ^ [25] "Resilient Darvish shrugs off problems to justify top billing for Fighters" - The Japan Times.
  26. ^ [26] "Versatile Darvish powers Fighters" - The Japan Times.
  27. ^ [27] "Seabol, Carp beat Giants in opener" - The Japan Times.
  28. ^ [28] "Clutch hitting ignites Dragons to win over Giants" - The Japan Times.
  29. ^ Darvish youngest to reach Y300 million in salary - 10 December 2009
  30. ^ [29] "Darvish poised for spotlight at Olympics" - The Japan Times.
  31. ^ [30] "Japan loses to Cuba in baseball opener" - The Japan Times.
  32. ^ [31] "Relaxed ace Darvish gets to grips with ball" - The Japan Times.
  33. ^ [32] "World Baseball Classic: Japan vs. Korea - March 17, 2009 (Boxscore)" - WorldBaseballClassic.com.
  34. ^ [33] "Japan books spot in final" - The Japan Times.
  35. ^ [34] "Japan rules baseball world again" - The Japan Times.
  36. ^ [35] Hershiser, Orel. "Japan's Darvish has all the tools to succeed" - ESPN.
  37. ^ [36] "Young star Darvish impresses Dragons" - The Japan Times.
  38. ^ [37] "Fukudome bats Japan past Cubs; Darvish impresses" - The Japan Times.

External links

Awards
Preceded by
Michihiro Ogasawara
Hisashi Iwakuma
Pacific League MVP
2007
2009
Succeeded by
Hisashi Iwakuma
Incumbent

 

All translations of Yu_Darvish


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