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Could this be the end for Hiroki Kuroda?

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Last night, Kuroda hinted that he might retire after the season. What has he accomplished in MLB?

Alex Goodlett

Michael Brown wrote yesterday about Hiroki Kuroda's remarkable consistency over his three seasons in pinstripes.

With Kuroda telling reporters during the postgame that he would wait until the offseason to decide whether to pitch another season, he's officially entered the Andy Pettitte stage of his career. If the Yankees are lucky, Kuroda can be convinced to pitch another season and provide some stability to a rotation in flux.

But even if he doesn't come back, his seven-year-career has been impressive. Of the active pitchers who have thrown at least 1000 innings, Kuroda stands alongside starters like Jon Lester and Matt Cain by measures like FIP and innings per season. He's not quite an ace but more than an innings eater. Considering that Kuroda didn't arrive in the States until his age-33 season, it's a pretty obvious conclusion that we've only seen the downside of his career, and that he missed the chance to truly prove himself an ace.

Although he was never a star in Japan like rivals Daisuke Matsuzaka or Yu Darvish, it's not hard to imagine Kuroda pitching 180 or so innings each season from age 26 to 32 (he reached the NPB at 22, but his first 4 seasons were weak, and I have to think he'd have bounced between the majors and minors in the US).

I don't know if the Baseball Hall of Fame should induct Japanese players for their performance in Japan; a Hall of Fame without Sadaharo Oh seems a poorer one. On the one hand, the Hall is full of Negro League players, but they were forcibly excluded from MLB in a way Japanese players are not (though I think the Japanese reserve clause is excessive and the posting system is a joke).

I don't think Hiroki Kuroda is a Hall of Famer, even considering his Japanese performance, but I do think he's a candidate for the Hall of Very Good, and the Yankees have been lucky to have him steadying the ship this season when every other starter has gotten hurt.