Masahiro Tanaka has 14 quality starts in 14 appearances in the major leagues. Is his record strong enough to make him the All-Star Game starter for the American League in his rookie season?Masahiro Tanaka is the American League leader in ERA and wins, but has his performance warranted selection as the league's starting pitcher for the All-Star Game?
Let's take a closer look at his case.
Dominating the American League
Most Consecutive Quality Starts
To Begin Career in MLB History
Tanaka's AL superiority doesn't stop at wins and ERA this season.
He also leads the circuit in WHIP (0.95), and ranks 2nd in strikeout rate (29.1% of plate appearances), strikeouts per 9 innings (10.2).
He's also been remarkably consistent. Every one of Tanaka's 14 major-league starts has been a quality start (at least 6 IP and 3 or fewer ER allowed), which makes this the 2nd-longest such streak to start a career in MLB history.
But it's not just what Tanaka is doing -- it's the overpowering manner in which he's doing it.
Masahiro Tanaka AL Ranks
He gets batters to chase pitches out of the strike zone at a higher rate (38.5%) than any other pitcher in the majors, and when they swing, they miss at a 29.9% clip, the highest in the American League.
Batters are swinging on 15 percent of all the pitches he throws, the highest rate of any pitcher in the majors.
Difference-Making Pitch: Splitter
The difference-making pitch for Tanaka has been his devastating splitter. He throws the splitter at a higher rate than anyone else (nearly 1 out of every 4 pitches).
He has 60 strikeouts with his splitter this season, more than twice as many as any other pitcher in baseball, and the pitch has accounted for more than half of his strikeouts this season.
This season, batters have taken 246 swings against Tanaka's splitter and have missed 120 times, both the most of any pitcher on that pitch by far. Opposing batters are hitting .125 in at-bats ending with Tanaka's splitter.
When he's gotten into trouble this season, he's gotten out of it with the splitter, as batters are 2-35 with 20 K against Tanaka's splitter with runners in scoring position this season.