For BP subscribers, Derek Carty has a very good, in-depth piece today that analyzes Yu Darvish from both a scouting and a statistical perspective, with an interesting discussion on how NPB's modified baseball has affected his statistics between 2010-11, and some valuable scouting information on how his deep arsenal grades out in the 20-80 scouting system:
Darvish is said to have an ideal pitcher's frame with a good mechanics and an easy delivery. Many scouts rave about his stuff, and like many Japanese pitchers, Darvish throws a lot of pitches, and he likes to tinker with new ones. Unlike other Japanese pitchers, though, most of Darvish's are above-average with a few potential all-star caliber offerings. He throws his four-seamer in the low- to mid-90s and can crank it up to 97 or 98 mph, and he throws his two-seamer in the low 90s to generate grounders. He also throws a plus cutter, a good forkball, and two sliders—a tighter, biting slider in the mid-80s and a high-70s, slurvier pitch. His lesser offerings are his change-up and curve, which he varies the tilt, rotation, and velocity on. All told, the scouts I spoke with were in agreement that Darvish definitely has the stuff to be a top-of-the-rotation MLB pitcher. It’ll be very interesting to see which pitches he takes with him to America, if he drops any.
Of particular interest is that one scout graded Darvish's present/future command as merely 50/65, meaning that his ability to spot the ball where he wants it really isn't better than (MLB) league-average at this point -- but there's also a lot of good talk about how Darvish has a fantastic work ethic and an established capacity for making adjustments, and about Darvish evolving from the prototypical nibbling NPB pitcher prior to the 2011 season into more of an assertive, aggressive, zone-pounding pitcher in 2011. We also have this:
Then, of course, we have the adjustments that are inherent to any Japanese import and are nearly impossible to predict: new workload, adjusting to two days more rest, new competition, different ball, cultural differences, language barriers, etc. One scout showed optimism in Darvish overcoming these obstacles, noting that he is “an elite pitcher who has an elite resume, so it may follow that he has an elite level of professionalism and will handle the differences well.”
My thinking is that the Rangers probably have a very good grasp on what Darvish is and is not at this point, know where his strengths and weaknesses lie, and have a game plan in mind as far as how they want to handle him if they should manage to prevail in the sealed-bid process. I would imagine that they have also closely studied the Red Sox/Daisuke dynamic, and have learned from the misfortune of their AL East opponents, who, among other things, (a) limited Daisuke's repertoire upon his arrival stateside, and (b) eventually tried to adjust Daisuke's training regimen so that it conformed to major league standards.
Anyway, it's an absolutely fantastic read (probably the single best article I've read on Yu Darvish), and if you're really getting excited over the prospect of the Rangers chasing him this off-season, I'd highly recommend finding some means of reading the entire thing.