Once again, Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish shows he’s a good player and better man.
There’s a significant segment of baseball fandom that believes that players are overpaid, greedy whiners who don’t care about the game or fans. Then along comes a guy like Cubs pitcher Yu Darvish who blows up that assumption.
You’ll recall that when Theo Epstein signed Darvish before the 2018 season to a six-year, $126 million deal, a lot of Cubs fans lost it. He made eight starts, then missed the entirety of the season due to injury and that was it: fans wanted heads on pikes.
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He came out in the second half of 2019 and posted Cy Young-caliber numbers and fans suddenly seemed to forget 2018. Chants of “Yu” rained down from the stands. Baseball is a funny game; fans are even funnier.
In 2020 Darvish wasn’t just dominant, he was wickedly so. His .201 ERA and 0.961 WHIP are only the base numbers. As I pointed out back in September, looking at advanced metrics no pitcher in the National League was more valuable to his team’s ability to win games than Darvish. In fact, in all of MLB, overall, only Shane Bieber of Cleveland was more valuable than Darvish. Clearly, the sportswriters aren’t as sabermetrically savvy as some of us.
He was very good in the 2020 postseason. Against the Marlins he pitched 6 2/3 innings allowing just two runs on five hits, with six Ks and two walks. Unfortunately, the Cubs bats didn’t show up. So what does the guy with more pitches than a car salesperson say about that game? He laments that because he didn’t pitch better Lester might not get another start in Wrigley as a Cub.
Then last week after Darvish came in second to Trevor Bauer in the Cy Young, he discovered a Cy Young bonus clause in his contract. That clause gives him $2.0 million if he wins the Cy Young and $1.0 million for a 2 through 5 finish.
So what does he do? He announces he’s giving a portion of the $1 million to charity. Jon Lester bought fans a beer; Yu Darvish gives his bonus to charity. You gotta love these guys.
Epstein has talked frequently about wanting players with character. Guys who had the right attitude and the right approach to the game and life. Clearly, he got all he wanted in Yu Darvish.