A young pitcher in Japan became known when he threw a no-hitter in the famous Spring Koshien High School baseball tournament. That pitcher's name was Yu Darvish, and if he wasn't known before that, you knew his name in Japan after that.
Some MLB teams even wanted him to forgo the NPB (Japan's professional baseball league) and come to the majors in the United States. He declined to do that and entered the NPB draft. He would be selected by the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters at the age of 18.
Now, Darvish isn't your typical Japanese pitcher in terms of his body. He is half-Japanese as well as half-Iranian, which is apparent by his last name. This Iranian descent from his dad is the most likely contributor to his 6'5" height. That height, along with his 220-pound body, gives him an imposing presence on the mound that you won't find with many Japanese pitchers.
He has about seven different pitches and most of them hover around the 80's to low 90's. His best pitches are his four-seam fastball, which is consistently 90-97 MPH, his slider, which stays around the low to mid-80's, and a Japanese pitch called the "shuuto", which is thrown at around 90-94.
This body frame that Darvish has, combined with his pitching arsenal, have contributed to his outstanding 93-38 win-loss record—along with a 1.99 ERA in his NPB career with the Fighters. He has earned countless awards over his career, including two Pacific League MVP's and a Eiji Sawamura Award (the Japanese equivalent to the Cy Young Award).
Darvish was never clear when he wanted to go if ever to the MLB, and it was heavily speculated year after year when each NPB season ended.
Initially, Darvish did not want to go the MLB. However, he started to change his mind over time after people talked to him about it and wondered how he would do in the US. One of the biggest things that influenced his decision to come over to the Major Leagues was the 2009 World Baseball Classic. He posted a record of 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA. He also clinched the title for Japan in the bottom of the 10th inning against South Korea. This surely gave him a lot of desire to play in the US considering the tournament took place in the United States and he faced MLB players in the competition.
Finally, this past offseason, Darvish decided to post himself for MLB teams to bid on him. The Texas Rangers ended up winning it with a $51.7 million bid. The bid exceeded the Red Sox's bid of $51.1 million for Daisuke Matsuzaka in 2006, and became the highest bid ever in the history of the posting process.
After long and tough negotiations which went down to the deadline to sign, Yu Darvish signed a six-year, $60 million contract with the Rangers.
Darvish also brings a rock star status to Texas from Japan. He is always in the Japanese news whether it is for the right or wrong reasons. One of the things that he had to resolve before posting himself to the MLB was his divorce situation. He was divorcing a Japanese actress named Saeko and she wanted some of the money from Yu's contract with the Rangers and full custody of their two sons. She got both of those requests and they are now officially divorced. This is just one example of the many things that Darvish makes the news for as well as the baseball news he generates.
Being so popular in Japan, he will bring a massive number of media members from Japan wherever he goes. He will also drastically increase the fan support for the Rangers in terms of fans from Japan. This will make ticket sales go up for that population and his jersey will sell off the charts. Many people do not realize how much of an impact that he will make for the Rangers outside of winning baseball games. They will soon realize that he will bring many Japanese fans from around the United States as well as from Japan itself.
Darvish will have many expectations from a wide variety of people to succeed in the MLB, but as long as he pitches like he knows how, he will become a superstar in no time.
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