First, Yu Darvish, who is very likely to come to U.S. next season, has struck out 1,000 hitters in his 7th season. He reached the milestone in 1,058 and 2/3 innings (0.94 K/INN) which is 7th fastest in the history of NPB. “Faster than Daisuke Matsuzaka” the Sankei Sports notes. Interestingly enough, this Fuji Evening News article and this Daily Sports article both mentions that the 6th fastest was Kei Igawa. But no number? So I got interested in who maybe on the list… Is Nomo? According to a Sports Nippon (sponichi) article, Darvish is the 129th player to reach 1,000 K. At 24 years and 8 month old, he is tied 4th youngest with Daisuke Matsuzaka, who did it in 2005. Daisuke and Darvish are behind Kokutetsu Swallows’ Shoichi Kaneda in 1954 as 20 years and 11 month, Yutaka Enatsu in 1970 at 22 years and 1 month, and Tsuneo Horiuchi (Yomiuri) in 1972 at 24 years 6 month.
Fastest in Nippon Professional Baseball to Reach 1,000 Strikeouts
|1||Hideo Nomo||Kintetsu Buffaloes||871||4|
|2||Kazuhisa Ishii||Yakult Swallows||913||9|
|3||Yutaka Enatsu||Hanshin Tigers||940||4|
|4||Toshiya Sugiuchi||Softbank Hawks||979 1/3||8|
|5||Hideki Irabu||Lotte Orions||997 1/3||9|
|6||Kei Igawa||Hanshin Tigers||1058||8|
|7||Yu Darvish||Nippon Ham Fighters||1058 2/3||7|
|8||Daisuke Matsuzaka||Seibu Lions||1070||7|
|9||Ken Kadokura||Yukohama BayStars||1083||11|
|10||Tsuyoshi Wada||Softbank Hawks||1094||8|
Yes, in fact Hideo Nomo has done it in only 4 years. And not surprising that the half of the 10 has already played in U.S.
Yutaka Enatsu, a lefty, who played 18 seasons in Japan from 1967 to 1984 for Hanshin Tigers, Nankai Hawks, Hiroshima Carp, Nippon Ham Fighters and Seibu Lions with 206-158 record with 2.49 ERA actually was invited/tried out for the Milwaukee Brewers Spring Training camp in 1985. Did not make the team.
Just a note, but second item in the aforementioned NBPTracker post is also amazing. A major difference in Japanese and American way of baseball. Case in point. Rakuten Golden Eagles ace Hisashi Iwakuma (who was posted but could not reach contract agreement with the Athletics this off-season) is already pitching 147 pitches in his third start of the season.
In comparison, Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Boston Red Sox, as I mentioned in a blog post earlier this year, has only 1 complete game in his 101 starts in U.S. and most pitch count he was allowed to go was 129, which happened in his first year June 5, 2007 against the Oakland Athletics (7 innings, and the team lost 2-0). he has only pitched more than 120 pitches twice in his US career, both came in the first year. Daisuke Mastuzaka was pulled from the game 16 times while he was still throwing shutouts, and he has not yet to through a complete game shutout in his U.S. career (his one complete game was a 1-run outing). I am not saying which is better, just amazed that the difference is so stark.