The Yankees made a substantial investment in Masahiro Tanaka ($155 million contract plus $US20 million posting fee), the latest hyped Japanese pitcher to make the jump to the big leagues and the early returns suggest he is worth every penny.
The secret to Tanaka is really no secret. His split-finger fastball, a pitch some call one of the best in the world, is a devastating pitch that starts in the strikezone and falls out just as it reaches the batter.
The result is only 43.4% of Tanaka’s pitches are actually in the strikezone and yet, batters swing at his pitches 50.5% of the time, one of the largest rates in baseball.
If we break it down even further and look at just pitches outside of the strikezone, we see that no pitcher can entice batters to swing at bad pitches more often than Tanaka and when they do, they rarely make contact.
Because of this, Tanaka leads Major League Baseball in one of the most important pitching stats, swinging strikes. The best pitchers are able to produce more swing-and-misses and right now, Tanaka is the best in baseball.
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