John Cownover has asked, in light of the comments made on here and elsewhere regarding Eric Nadel's comments on Yu Darvish, that we post the following response:
I would like to come to the defense of Eric Nadel because it is my sense that many are missing his point and are all-consumed by this "ace" debate. His main contention is that Darvish doesn't pitch as well in that late stages of tight games as he does otherwise. If this is an accurate interpretation of Eric’s words and thoughts, I happened to share his sentiments. I won’t speak for Eric, but I do know that what I am NOT saying is that Yu is terrible or “broke”. I think he is exceptional. I also think he can improve…and that’s scary. And it’s great if you are a Ranger fan.
Do the "late and close" stats that Brad described not prove Nadel's main contention? These are the only stats that specifically address Nadel's major point:
Late & Close
Here's one specific item where Darvish is 6% worse than league average (sOPS+) and 37% worse than his overall performance (tOPS+) which probably fuels a lot of the anecdotal memories of folks. League average is going to include a lot of late inning relievers pitching with the lead, so even though a .699 OPS is pretty good, it's not great late in the game.
While many of you seem all-consumed by Nadel's flippant chatter to Brad, the fact is, the stats that Brad was throwing out at that point DID NOT ADDRESS NADEL'S POINT.
If you want hard evidence of Nadel's point, to me, the question is simply, "HAS DARVISH GIVEN UP THE LEAD (OR THE TIE) in late game situations, or hasn't he?" Well, he has done so 3 times in the last two games. He also did it in Arizona in late May (Gregorious’ 2-run triple) and vs Chicago in May (Wise’s 2-run HR in 6th). That's five I can think of without even going to the game logs. I feel certain there have been 7-8 times it has happened this year. These are indisputable facts. They actually happened. They are not RATINGS or RANKINGS manufactured from a formula.
Has Darvish issued several lead off walks late in close games, or hasn't he?
When Eric says, "I have seen all the games", this, I assume, is what he is referring to. I suspect that actual game events are what caused him to make the generalization that Darvish needs to be better in these types of games.
I know some people have the opinion that when runs are scored off a pitcher does not change their value...a sixth inning home run is the same as a second inning home run. I have listened to hundreds if not thousands of pregame and postgame Ranger broadcasts over the last 30 or so years. My observation is that current and former players do not agree with this premise. To a man, they believe that the pressure situation causes a different response in different people. Some try too hard, some get scared and tighten up, others find the right combination of guts and execution. Others are totally unfazed and just perform the same. To discount the human element here, in favor of randomness, seems foolhardy to me.
Even in my non-sports related career, a highly complex task is much easier for me to complete successfully when it’s 7:30 or 8:00 in the morning (tantamount to pitching in a 0-0 game in the top of the second) as opposed to when it’s 3:15 in the afternoon, an immediate decision must be made and all manner of chaos is erupting (i.e. you’re up on the Tigers 3-2 in the bottom of the of the 7th, there’s runners on the corners with 1 out and you’re down in the count 3-1. Oh, and Miguel Cabrera is on deck). I suspect many, if not all, of you have been there. Not on the literal mound as an MLB pitcher is, but the mounds of your daily circumstances.Our performance is often altered by what Nadel calls “high leverage” situations. It’s human nature. Can anyone explain to me why this does not make sense?
Lets' face it...Darvish has won 9 blowout games and 3 close ones. No matter how you value the WIN stat, Darvish, as the ace of the staff, needs to pitch better in the biggest moments of close contests so that team can win more games. Sure, it would help to have more offense, but absent that, he needs to be even better.(The Rangers are averaging almost 8 runs a game in his wins).
I spent part of my career in Buffalo. We were discussing advertising opportunities with a large national sandwich chain. My boss was a great guy, but not the most cerebral of fellows. When the client finished explaining their marketing strategy for Western New York, Phil (my boss) offered a deadpan look and said simply, “We just wanna help you sell more sandwiches.” I have used that story many times and I think it fits here. We just need Yu to help us win more games. He can do that by refining certain aspects of his game. That’s my point. I like to think it’s Eric Nadel’s too.
Parenthetically, for those attacking Nadel as some sort of Hawkish dinosaur (which I understand on some levels because I spent many, many summer evenings as a boy and young man in Salado, Texas listening to him and the late, great Mark Holtz on WBAP). What you probably don’t know is that he was the first baseball announcer to regularly use Range Factor on the air when it was invented in the 80s.....and regularly used Runs Saved in his on air discussions of fielding prowess. He was the first to promote SABRE on the air. When he believes in a new stat, he uses it.
The defense rests.
I welcome respectful dissent on Twitter @BYUArlingtonTN or via email email@example.com