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Today's Fun Fact

In the middle of last December, the Texas Rangers won the rights to negotiate with Yu Darvish by putting out a massive posting fee worth nearly $52 million. It didn't come as a huge surprise, although the Rangers did have to blindly outbid other strong contenders. On January 18th, the Rangers officially signed Yu Darvish to a six-year contract worth another $56 million. All told, the Rangers committed nine figures to a guy they hoped would become one of the best starters in Major League Baseball.

On January 24th, the Seattle Mariners signed Kevin Millwood to a minor-league contract. Millwood was considered an odds-on favorite to make the rotation out of camp, but nothing was guaranteed. When Millwood did break camp with the team, he started earning a $1 million salary.

It's June 7th. Darvish has started 12 times for the Rangers, while Millwood has started 11 times for the Mariners. A comparison:

Stat Darvish Millwood
IP/start 6.1 5.9
ERA 3.84 3.90
FIP 4.01 3.60
xFIP 4.17 4.25

This afternoon, Darvish started against the A's, who are terrible, at hitting. He faced 29 batters, walking six of them and hitting another. He threw 55 percent of his pitches for strikes, and on the season, he's thrown just under 60 percent of his pitches for strikes. The AL average for a starting pitcher this year is just over 63 percent.

When Darvish debuted and was wild, people figured he must have been nervous. And he probably was nervous, because who wouldn't be? But he's remained pretty wild, and while he's still been fairly effective, he hasn't been any more effective than Kevin Millwood, who was an offseason afterthought. And Millwood is costing a fraction of the amount, because he's Kevin Millwood and not an international sensation.

Of course, I wouldn't expect Darvish and Millwood to continue to perform at similar levels going forward. Darvish has been all right, and the strikeouts are there, and he might still be making adjustments. Darvish has all kinds of talent and we can't declare him unfixably wild after his first dozen starts in the US. He's kind of still a prospect, in the way that Hector Noesi is kind of still a prospect, although Darvish is the better and more polished prospect.

The main point here is, haha, Yu Darvish is flawed. He's walked or hit 15 percent of the batters he's faced, which is way too many. It's been more than two months and he hasn't out-pitched a guy a lot of Mariners fans wanted removed from the rotation some weeks ago. Millwood's been all right, and Darvish has been all right, and both of those should be considered surprising.

There's no guarantee that Darvish stays like this in the future. Enjoy his present, just as you enjoyed Albert Pujols' present when he was presently slumping. This has just enough to do with the Mariners' best interests that it isn't pure schadenfreude, not that there's anything wrong with pure schadenfreude. Find enjoyment wherever you can.