If you’re only a casual baseball fan, you might be forgiven for thinking that a pitcher’s job is to stand on the mound and hurl the ball as fast as he can past the hitter’s swinging bat every time out.
But that is not so. The pitcher’s job is to fool the batter, and Major League players are good enough to catch up to even the speediest fastballs if they know that’s what they’re going to see every time out. A list of the greatest pitchers in baseball history is not a carbon copy of the fastest strike-throwers in baseball history. There’s far more to it than that.
Today on Grantland, there’s a dive into the arsenal of Texas Rangers ace Yu Darvish. The article itself is more than the casual baseball fan likely wants to read, but this bit sums up nicely why we should feel lucky to have him plying his trade regularly in Arlington:
For people with my temperament, Yu Darvish is like a long-awaited prophet. He throws eight pitches, a few of them very weird, and even though a language barrier keeps us from understanding his personality as much as we’d like, the creative genius is evident in his style. What’s more, it’s not just fanciful; it works. He leads MLB in strikeout rate, and he also averages almost seven innings per start, among the top 10 in baseball. He’s second only to King Felix in WAR, and he does it all with the 45th-fastest heater in the game. He’s a magician, and I love him.
Plus look at that .gif above, which we’ve noted before, of Darvish at work. It’s mesmerizing.