Today it was announced that the man many people think is the greatest pitcher on the planet – Japanese superstar pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka – will be allowed to come to the Major Leagues a year early by his current team, the Seibu Lions.
Matsuzaka has already proven himself against international competition in the WBC, in which he took home the tournament MVP award, and scouts universally rave about his pitching talents. Known for his compact, fluid pitching motion, Matsuzaka has has five major-league caliber pitches, including a 96-mile-per-hour fastball as well as sinker, changeup, splitter, and slider. Matsuzaka is also famous in baseball blogging circles for his supposed mastery of an amazing new pitch called the gyroball, although that pitch is siginificantly more myth than fact.
But perhaps most importantly of all, Matsuzaka is a total badass, who goes for the strikeout and is incredibly durable. His legend was first made in Japan when he stunned the nation by tossing a 250-pitch, 17-inning complete game in the highly-watched Japanese high school tournament. Just as if to prove that he was not tired, the very next day he delievered a no-hitter to win the championship game.
Matsuzaka is sure to be one of the most highly sought-after Japanese free agents ever. Even with Ichiro, nobody was sure if his skills would translate to the majors, but Matsuzaka is seen as a proven quantity, and may be the best Japanese payer ever to come over. Next season he will be just 27 years old, so as good as he is now, he still may get even better, barring injury.