If there is any athlete that has earned his place in the limelight when it comes to professional sports icons, starting pitcher Yu Darvish would be near the top of that list. Considered one of the most dominant pitchers in Japanese and American baseball, Darvish is a soft-spoken spectacle that has entranced fans for years. While Darvish’s career has been somewhat marred by injuries, he is a fearless strikeout machine when healthy. Given Darvish’s rise to prominence on a global scale, one important inquiry remains: how much is the gifted starting pitcher actually worth?
Yu Darvish’s Net Worth as of 2017: $23 Million
How did the iconic pitcher get there? And how have his numerous accomplishments garnered him this impressive wealth? Let’s find out.
2005 – 2011
Despite getting off to a shaky start as a professional baseball player in Japan (he was caught smoking in a pachinko parlor and was too young to legally gamble and smoke), Darvish was still allowed to make his debut later in the season. In his first start, Darvish emphatically displayed his abilities when he pitched eight shutout innings in an interleague game. Overall, Darvish had an impressive rookie season with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters as he compiled a 5-5 record with an ERA of 3.53.
Coming into the 2006 season, Darvish was not content to rest on his laurels as he further distinguished himself as a locked in and efficient pitcher. His overall numbers were indicative of his essential contributions to his team (12-5 record, 115 strikeouts with an ERA of 2.89) as the Fighters won their first Pacific League title since 1981. Better still, Darvish was instrumental in helping the Fighters win their first championship since 1961.
As a result of his consistent dominance, Darvish was named the opening day starting pitcher for the 2007 season (became just the fourth player in franchise history to be named the opening day starting pitcher within three years of graduating from high school). Once again, Darvish continued to establish a favorable reputation as a strikeout artist (became just the second professional Japanese baseball player to strikeout 14 batters or more in two consecutive starts). His statistical marks by the end of the season were nothing short of impressive (15-5 record, 210 strikeouts with a 1.82 ERA). While the Fighters eventually lost in the Japan Series, Darvish totaled 24 strikeouts in the two games he started in the series. During the offseason, Darvish re-signed with the Fighters for 200 million yen, making him the youngest player in Japanese baseball history to reach the 200 million yen mark.
With his newfound wealth, Darvish went into the 2008 season determined to establish himself as the best starting pitcher in Japanese baseball. Despite putting up five less wins than rival starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, Darvish still finished the season with a 16-4 record, 208 strikeouts and a 1.88 ERA. Although Darvish and the Fighters failed to make their third straight appearance in the Japan Series, the Fighters once again saw it fit to retain Darvish’s coveted services as they re-signed him to a 270 million yen contract.
After several years of being a prolific and consistent starting pitcher, 2009 saw Darvish succumb to his first serious injury. Although the Fighters classified Darvish’s injury initially as “shoulder fatigue”, it was clear in his woeful performances before and after the injury was made official that something more severe had occurred. While Darvish came back in time for the postseason and pitched well, the fighters were unable to get past the Yomiuri Giants, who they lost to in five games. It was revealed after the Japan Series that Darvish had a fracture in his right forefinger and had issues with his lower body due to hip pain. Still, Darvish was ultimately awarded with his second MVP award and re-signed with the Fighters at 330 million yen.
While Darvish came into 2010 season healthy, the Fighters as a team struggled mightily throughout the course of the season. The Fighters began the season with a 5-14-1 record, but Darvish was undeterred by his teams abysmal performances and lead the league in strikeouts throughout the majority of the season. Although Darvish did miss a couple of starts due to back discomfort and a sore knee, he was able to set a career low ERA of 1.78 along with 222 strikeouts on the season.
In his final season with the Fighters (and in Japan), Darvish signed a massive contract of 500 million yen, which made him the highest paid baseball player in Japan. After a uncharacteristically poor start to the season (allowed seven runs in seven innings on opening day), Darvish pitched the rest of the season allowing no more than three runs per start. Statistically, it was his best season to date as he garnered 18 wins, compiled 276 strikeouts and set a new career low ERA of 1.44. After being eliminated in the first round of the Pacific League Playoffs, speculation began to circulate of Darvish leaving Japan to join the MLB.
He reportedly earned 500 million yen in 2011 (which could have been converted to roughly $6 million at the time).
2012 – Present
After negotiations with the Fighters, Darvish was ultimately allowed to sign a six-year, $60 million contract with the Texas Rangers. Although Darvish was able to get a win in his first start in the majors, he still posted fairly lackluster numbers (pitched 5.2 innings, giving up eight hits, five runs while striking out five). However, it would not take the determined Darvish long to adjust to the tenacious hitters in the majors. On April 24, Darvish pitched 8.1 shutout innings while compiling 10 strikeouts. As a result of his consistency, Darvish was the final American League player to make the 2012 All-Star roster. While Darvish posted a high ERA by his standards (3.90 ERA), he still garnered 16 wins and struck out 221 hitters in his first major league season.
While the 2013 season was briefly disrupted for Darvish when he was placed on the 15-day DL in the middle of the season due to a trapezius strain, he quickly returned to have his best season in the majors. He garnered an eye-popping 277 strikeouts in the season with an impressive ERA of 2.83.
Although some lingering injuries resurfaced during the 2014 season, Darvish still posted a respectable ERA (3.06) and was elected to his third all-star game.
The 2015 season would sadly see Darvish sidelined for the season due to having Tommy John surgery during spring training.
While Darvish saw playing time during the 2016 season, he was still inhibited somewhat from having Tommy John surgery the previous season. He was placed on the 15-day DL twice during the season but still managed to post a respectable ERA of 3.41 while striking out 132 batters in just 100.1 innings pitched.
Thus far in the 2017 season, Darvish has been healthy and his performances on the mound are indicative of what the silent strikeout king can do when he is on top of his game. With a 2.83 ERA and 68 strikeouts on the season, Darvish has looked every bit like the dominant starter that he was in Japan and when he initially came over to the majors.
Given how many well-established and championship caliber starting pitchers there are in the majors, it’s easy to forget how phenomenal Darvish is when healthy. Despite missing the entire 2015 season and having a underwhelming 2016 season, Darvish has rediscovered that fiery determination and discipline that made him a household name both in Japan and in the United States. While it’s premature to say that Darvish is completely back to his old ways of being a reliable and consistent starter, what he has done thus far in 2017 should give baseball fans tremendous hope that the stoic athlete is on pace for a satisfying and well deserved redemption season.
He reportedly earned $11 million in 2017