When the question “is Yu Darvish an All-Star?” was posed to the man himself, Darvish’s response through an interpreter was “I don’t know” and “probably not”. The main reasons he cited for not considering himself an All-Star was a combination of his feeling that he gives up too many walks, and that he doesn’t want to receive such an honor solely based on the hype that has surrounded his first MLB season.
Perhaps fortunately for Darvish, it is out of his hands now. It is also out of the player’s or coach’s hands. The decision for whether or not Darvish is an All-Star rests on the internets fans. Darvish is one of five American League players nominated for the Final Vote to determine the last roster spot on the 2012 All-Star team. Darvish will face off against Ernesto Frieri, Jonathan Broxton, Jason Hammel, and Jake Peavy. Voting will take place through Thursday, and the online ballot can be found here.
Despite Darvish’s comments, a strong case can be made for him to be the winner of the Final Vote. While his humility is commendable, to suggest he is a lesser candidate than any of the other four finalists would be selling Darvish short. Although Frieri is yet to give up a run in the American League, and Broxton, Hammel, and Peavy are all having strong breakout or comeback years, Darvish is most worthy of the honor of the final spot.
Yes, Darvish has walked too many batters, issuing 53 free passes (tied for most in the AL with Ubaldo Jimenez) in 102.2 innings. On the other hand, Darvish’s 117 strikeouts trails only Justin Verlander’s 121 for the league lead, and he trails only Max Scherzer in strikeouts-per-nine innings. Darvish has thrown the 11th-most innings in the AL, his 3.56 ERA is good for 14th-best in the league, and he is one of three pitchers currently with double-digit wins.
Besides the statistics that I naturally gravitate to, there are many more off-the-field reasons that Darvish should be a member of the 2012 All-Star team. The All-Star game is an exhibition created for the fans of baseball to be able to see today’s most exciting and talented players take the field at the same time. As someone who has been able to watch almost every inning that Darvish has pitched this year, I can say with utmost certainty that all baseball fans should have the opportunity to watch him go to work against the best hitters in the game. Darvish is a MLB rookie, and an import from Japan, but he has not pitched like either in his first 16 starts. Darvish has an arsenal of pitches that very few can match, possessing the ability to display six different offerings that are of an elite nature in a single start. He is pitching unlike any MLB rookie or Japanese import ever has, and fans of the game should have the opportunity to see that in action at an even larger stage.
The Texas Rangers already have a franchise-record seven players selected to the All-Star Game (Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, Ian Kinsler, Mike Napoli, Matt Harrison, and Joe Nathan). Darvish’s worth of the final selection is not a derivative of ensuring the best team in baseball is well represented; that is already guaranteed. His worth is based on the results he has generated in his rookie season, and because he is on track to have played a significant role in baseball’s history. Watching Darvish take the mound in Kansas City for the All-Star game (along with others, like Mike Trout) would be a glimpse at the future of the game – one that is bright, electric, and worthy of every recognition it receives.
Besides, Darvish has been so good he has baffled some major league hitters into swinging and missing twice on the same pitch. Everyone should get to see that.
Join in the conversation with Peter on Twitter by following him @Peter_Ellwood