I was about to take a nap today when I saw that MLB Trade Rumors had picked Jason Kubel to sign with the Dodgers. I made my way to FanGraphs to see if I could make a post basically laughing at Ned Colletti repeating his past mistakes of bringing in a veteran outfielder to block a talented youngster.
On my way there though, I saw two articles on FanGraphs about Yu Darvish and decided to click-through to see what they thought, because I love to get their take on things.
Well in an article called “Darvish Is Not Daisuke” by Eno Sarris, I was amused at the first justification for why they aren’t comparable.
The first difference might seem irrelevant at first: Darvish is not only Japanese — he’s also half Iranian. The reason this is relevant is not that Iranian people are better at baseball. The point is that Darvish would be the tallest pitcher to make the jump from Nippon Professional Baseball to Major League Baseball. At 6-foot-5, he’s five inches taller than Matsuzaka. The average Iranian male is 5-foot-8.6 and the average Japanese male is 5-foot-7.8 (American males are 5-foot-9.2 on average), so it might have taken a little genetic help to produce a Japanese pitcher this tall. Darvish is also 220 pounds, but could have the frame to add more. He added 20 pounds this year.
Regardless of how it was intended, the passage absolutely reads as if it were meant to say, “Good thing Yu Darvish is mixed so he can be tall and throw hard unlike the rest of the Japanese pitchers because LOL AZNS ARE SHORT LOL“.
Honestly, I wasn’t offended by this or anything, but I just found it hilarious how nonchalantly ethnic/racial genetic differences were thrown into the mix as if it were legitimate and relevant analysis.
I generally don’t use this site to complain about stereotypes or racism, because I honestly can’t be fucked enough to care, but I do enjoy calling it out when I see it. Hell, if for no other reason than because it entertains me to no end.
Overall, I’m used to this type of shit as it happens so commonly with Asians and Asian Americans because nobody honestly gives a shit about offending us, but it did give me pause and ended up turning my face into this:
Regardless, it’s quite the interesting direction for FanGraphs to go, and I anxiously await future articles analyzing Asian baseball players. I would like to start:
“Daisuke Matsuzaka’s inability to control the strike zone doomed him in America, as his slanted eyes prevented him from seeing the strike zone with the same clarity as pitchers of other races. I’m not saying it matters FOR SURE, but it’s unfortunate that he lost the genetic lottery by being born Japanese, or he might have been born with bigger eyes and have better control. Genetically speaking. Genetics.”
Feel free to contribute examples of your own, as I’m sure there are many ways to analyze players using ethnic and racial genetic differences.
All jokes aside, what does the passage even statistically tell you?
The average Iranian male is 0.8 inches taller than the average Japanese male (assuming that’s true), so Yu Darvish being mixed Iranian-Japanese probably affected his chances of being a 6’5″ outlier enough to make it a lead point on why he’s not similar to Daisuke Matsuzaka?
Commenters on the article are predictably defending the passage and are saying that the critics are missing the point, but isn’t the article itself hilariously missing the point when the passage serves absolutely no purpose since it provides no evidence that has any statistical value whatsoever?
Like I understand if it was proven that Iranians have a statistically significant amount of people who are taller than 6’4″ when compared with the Japanese, but I struggle to see a point in mentioning an average difference of less than an inch.
All I’m saying is that if the article had stated Hiroki Kuroda was more likely than Rubby De La Rosa to stay out of trouble off the field and succeed in pressure situations because Japanese score higher on IQ tests than Dominicans, I doubt it gets pushed.