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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

FANTASY BASEBALL ISSUES: WHAT DO WE DO WITH MASAHIRO TANAKA IN DRAFTS?

Obviously the big news of the day is the blockbuster 7-year deal worth $155 million the New York Yankees gave Japanese pitching sensation Masahiro Tanaka to serve as a front of the rotation weapon.  The problem for the fantasy baseball community however is how should he be graded when it comes to drafts?  Complicated problem no doubt due to the mixed history of Japanese pitchers coming over to the States and heaven's knows the Yankees have been front and center with bad experiences with Kei Igawa and Hideki Irabu while also hitting big with Hiroki Kuroda who didn't sign with them in the first place like the other two guys did.  So with all that said is Tanaka more Yu Darvish or Igawa?  Or somewhere in between? 

We profiled Tanaka a few weeks ago and really the scouting reports remains the same.  For those who missed the previous article, Tanaka features two above-average pitchers in his fastball and curve while also showcasing as good as it gets control.  That will put Tanaka in line to yield a very attractive WHIP since he won't be beating himself with walks and has tough stuff overall to make solid contact on.  As far as his recent results were concerned, Tanaka put up three straights campaigns with an ERA under 2.00 while with the Rakuten Eagles and that is very impressive no matter who it is against.  Also try a 1.9 KBB/9 which shows you how good his control is.  As far as the strikeouts are concerned, Tanaka is no Yu Darvish who can rear back and pick up K's at will.  While Darvish is a strikeout monster, Tanaka is more likely to be in the 180 range with the possibility of getting close to 200 as a rookie due to the unfamiliarity of his stuff.  When you put it all together, Tanaka looks like a classic SP 2 in fantasy baseball terms.  As with all prized foreign imports, the price tends to get a bit wacky, especially when he signs with the Yankees.  The AL East is a challenge for all pitchers and like any starter Tanaka would have a better ERA and WHIP in the National League without debate.  However since his control is good, Tanaka will not be as susceptible to blowups like other AL East starters. 

When it comes to the draft, settle on Tanaka being a SP 2 and react accordingly.  Don't jump in and reach as there still remains mystery of how his body will respond to the grueling major league schedule and long season.  However Tanaka is the real deal in our opinion and should be highly valued in the draft to a point.  Stay disciplined and you won't get hurt. 

2014 PROJECTION:  15-7 3.29 ERA 1.10 WHIP 186 K

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