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First Thing To Know About Koji Uehara

1.29

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That's how many walks per nine innings pitched Koji Uehara has allowed since he came to the Majors in 2009, which leads all qualifying American League relievers over that period, and sits just one hundredth of a walk from leading all of baseball.

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By now, you probably know Uehara is now a Ranger, and Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter are not. There will be plenty of analysis on what Uehara brings to the Rangers in the coming days -- most of it amounting to "a really good righty reliever" -- but the first thing to know is that he walks no one.

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That's not all, though. He also strikes people out. His 11.57 strikeouts per nine in that same run ranks third in the AL. His 16.9% rate of swinging strikes is the best in the league in 2011, and he ranks third there since 2009. As we (think we) know, those are the biggest ways for Major League pitchers to maintain success. This season Uehara's strikeouts are up to 11.87, ranking fifth in the league, while his walks are also up to 1.53 but still ranks third in the AL. Unsurprisingly, that sort of performance ends up with Uehara ranked as one of the best pitchers in the league in 2011 on FanGraphs, and the performance is nothing out of the ordinary for him.

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The one thing, as far as "true outcomes," that has been keeping him down this season has been an uptick in home runs allowed, but it's more likely small sample size noise than a loss of ability at this point, especially given his rate of fly balls allowed has actually improved.

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So, we can quibble about whether or not the price was worth it, but the Rangers are certainly getting a pitcher whose track record as a reliever has been spectacular, and is unlikely to hand out many frustrating walks in tight contests.

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The last thing you should know tonight is that his $4 million option for 2012 will vest with 12 more appearances.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.