WILL DAISUKE MATSUZAKA BE WORTH THE PRICE?
The short answer is a resounding yes. According to Baseball Prospectus's Davenport Translations (DTs), a method that has accurately predicted the performance of Japanese players from Kenji Johjima to Akinori Otsuka by comparing the before-and-after production of previous Japanese imports, Matsuzaka's statistics in the Pacific League have been so dominant that he has plenty of room to spare even if his numbers suffer slightly against tougher U.S. competition.
Big league teams have some reasons to be cautious about Matsuzaka, but they have more to do with health than performance: Matsuzaka missed time with a groin injury last season and once threw 250 pitches in a day as a high schooler. Still, the DTs say that Matsuzaka's 200 strikeouts and 34 walks in 186 1/3 innings last year in Japan would translate to 158 strikeouts and 40 walks in the majors, and his 2.13 ERA would translate into a 2.91 ERA—a strikeout rate, walk rate and ERA comparable to those in a typical season by the Astros' Roy Oswalt.