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Is Masahiro Tanaka MLB’s top pitcher?
- Updated: June 23, 2014
When will he be posted? Who is going to sign him? Is he worth the money? All of these questions were asked by baseball experts this offseason regarding Japanese pitching sensation Masahiro Tanaka. For nearly two months all the chatter swirled around him, and this hype caused me to question if Tanaka was going to live up to all the expectations placed on his shoulders.
The high spending New York Yankees thought he was going to be a star as they inked the 25-year-old righty to a seven-year deal worth $155 while also paying the $20 million posting fee to his former Japanese ball club, the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
So far through 15 starts Tanaka hasn’t had any problems adjusting to Major League Baseball as he has performed at an elite level going 11-2 with a 2.11 ERA and 119 strikeouts compared to only 17 walks. He leads the American League in wins while sitting near the top in almost every other statistical category.
This outstanding start has caused many baseball fans to wonder if he is currently the best pitcher in baseball.
When the Yankees made the trip to Milwaukee to take on the Milwaukee Brewers I was fortunate enough to cover the game that Tanaka started. By the time the game was over, I could not believe what I had just witnessed. While it was not his best start of the season, he still displayed excellent stuff.
He has a devastating split-fingered fastball that is already the best in the game, and his late life and command is special. His secondary pitchers are also extremely underrated.
There is no question that if the season ended today that he would win the AL Rookie of the Year Award and AL Cy Young Award. Tanaka has been a special pickup for the Yankees, and has surpassed all thoughts of him being just a number two starter.
However, even though Tanaka has been remarkable, he is not the top pitcher in the game. Right now that honor goes to the man who has two Cy Young Awards in his trophy case, Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw.
This season Kershaw is 7-2 with a 2.52 ERA while also throwing a no-hitter. In his seven big league season the southpaw is 84-48 with a 2.60 ERA and 1.083 WHIP, while accumulating up a long list of accolades.
One day Tanaka may become the top pitcher in baseball, but right now he isn’t. Until we see him dominating opposing hitters year after year, Kershaw will be the game’s top hurler as he has demonstrated a high level of consistency for numerous seasons.