Yesterday the Yankees and their fans said goodbye to Masahiro Tanaka, a great Yankee by any measurement.
Signed as a free agent in January of 2014 for $155 million, Tanaka delivered on the high expectations and then some. Despite pitching with an elbow that was not 100% for a good stretch of those seven seasons, Tanaka averaged 27 starts, 168 innings pitched, double digit wins, a plus winning percentage and an ERA below league average, per season.
That my friends, is a dependable and valuable player.
Among American League pitchers over that stretch who threw a minimum of 900 innings, Tanaka ranks 2nd in shutouts, 4th in winning percentage, 5th in wins 6th in starts, 7th in WAR, IP and K%-BB%, 8th in ERA+ and strikeouts, and 9th in FIP. He was a top ten American League pitcher over the course of his Yankee career by any measurement you like, new school or old.
Where does he rank historically among Yankee greats? As you would expect, only the best of the best Yankees were better than Masahiro. Here are his career numbers with the Yankees:
1,054 IP, 991 K, 17.5 WAR, ERA+ 114, FIP 3.91.
Since integration, here are the Yankee pitchers to top those numbers: Whitey Ford, Andy Pettitte, Ron Guidry, Mike Mussina, Roger Clemens, and Allie Reynolds.
Not bad company.
Best of luck with the Rakuten Golden Eagles, Masahiro hope to see you again.
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