I was going to write this last week, but Roenis Elias got stomped into the ground by the New York Yankees, so I put it off, waiting for a better game with which to really bring my point home. That game took place yesterday afternoon, against the Padres, where he went 7 innings, giving up 1 run, walking 0, striking out 6, and giving up only 3 hits.
Speaking of the Yankees, there’s a “rookie” out there by the name of Masahiro Tanaka. He’s 25 years old and he’s amazing. He’s absolutely crushing everyone in his path and is a shoo-in for the A.L. Rookie of the Year award. I mean, just print his name on it now and give it to him as he’s starting the All Star Game next month.
It should be pointed out that he has been pitching since 2007 in Japan, where he was a 5-time all star as well as a 2-time winner of the equivalent of the Cy Young award.
I should also point out that it’s silly to complain about this, since the Mariners have benefited twice in this Japanese rookie deal, with Kaz Sasaki and Ichiro, who won the ROY in back-to-back years. But, still. Roenis Elias is an ACTUAL rookie. He made the jump from AA, which is impressive all by itself, and he has proven that he’s the third best pitcher in a rotation featuring two aces in King Felix & Iwakuma. Elias is not a perfect, finished product. And we’re not even halfway through the season yet. But, it should be noted that he would be in consideration for the ROY award in any other year.
I’m not coming on here saying that the system should be changed, or that voters should discount players who come over from Japan. I’m mostly just saying that it’s disappointing that Elias appears to be overlooked from a national viewpoint. He’s not even mentioned among the game’s best Cuban players in the Major Leagues today! Granted, his resume is relatively light, but you’ve got that game yesterday, you’ve got that complete game shutout against the Tigers, you’ve got the 10-strikeout game in Yankee Stadium, and you’ve got that great game down in Texas – in his third start – when he gave up 1 run while pitching into the 7th inning. It’s a small sample of great games, but it’s growing by the month.
Hell, even if Tanaka didn’t exist, I don’t know if Elias would be a front-runner. But, he’d be in the running. The rest of baseball should take notice.