Asian Player Comps (Yamamoto, Imanaga, & Yariel Rodriguez)

The following Asian player comps came about because I was tired of not having a reference when a player signed in the stats from Japan or Korea. The projections seemed off as either being too enthusiastic or just hated the player. This is my solution.

First off, this method is far from perfect. It’s not even close. The main problem is that the largest group to make the jump, pitchers from Japan, only have a sample size of 50 players with most of them being bullpen arms. Those who make projections are using the same sample. I wanted to know who was in that sample. One fact I fact I found while compiling this list is that any projection will have wide error bars so being close is a major achievement.

To create a reference I could use, I took all the players who made the jump from Japan or Korea. I took their single-season stats before the jump to their major league stats. I grouped similar players using z-score on a few core stats.

To start with here are the preseason comps on four players who made the transition from Japan to the majors last season.

The comps suggested that both Shintaro Fujinami and Scott McGough would struggle with the transition and they did. When I created them last season, I was worried that Ichiro Suzuki would skew the Masataka Yoshida’s comps to the high side but they were dead on giving Yoshida a good batting average and some power.

The one player they missed on was Kodai Senga. The one issue with him was that he was the third-best pitcher I added, but he wasn’t at the level of Shohei Ohtani and Yu Darvish. I had an idea that Senga could perform better, but I didn’t know how much.

I am running into that same problem this season with Yoshinobu Yamamoto. Here are his closest comps using the stats from Japan.

This time, prime Yu Darvish is a comp and the top one, but Yamamoto’s average stats are below the group’s average with no Ohtani in sight. And here is how those comps performed.

Just focusing on the top-five comps, especially Darvish, is encouraging for Yamamoto going into next season.

Additionally, Shota Imanaga and Yariel Rodriguez (took a year off) are both supposed to make the transition, and here are their comps.

Note: Jung Hoo Lee is probably going to sign from Korea but at the moment, I barely have many Korean hitter comps.

I’m not going to put any stock into Rodriquez to start the season even though he throws hard. As for Imanaga, I’d take a chance on him but it would be in the “take a chance on by not count on him range”. I’m guessing near pick 300.

That’s all for today and there are some rumors of other players making the jump and when they do, I’ll provide their comps.

Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won four FSWA Awards including on for his Mining the News series. He's won Tout Wars three times, LABR twice, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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4 months ago

Wow, I wanted the Dbacks to sign Imanaga. Maybe not anymore.

As a side question, how would you have rated M Kelly prior to him joing the Dbacks. He has pleasently surprised most of us and has gotten better despite getting older. I would argue he has been more consistent than Gallen as well especially this year.

4 months ago
Reply to  Xerostomia

Ya Imanaga is not inspiring any confidence in me at all. And he is 31 already ? No thanks. Yamamoto has a good chance to be very very good.