For the first part of the off-season, the Pinstriped Bible staff will be grading 35 of the Yankees' main contributors on the 2013 roster. Their entire season will be taken into account, even if part of it came at the minor league level. We continue the series with Hiroki Kuroda.
2013 Statistics: 201 1/3 IP, 3.31 ERA, 150 Strikeouts, 3.49 K/BB, 3.8 fWAR
2014 Contract Status: Free Agent
Hiroki Kuroda emerged as the Yankees' unexpected ace by pitching brilliantly at the same time CC Sabathia took a turn for the worse. After a hot start by the Yankees offense in April, the pitching staff kept the Yankees afloat through the All-Star break. Kuroda put up great numbers in the first half highlighted by a 2.65 ERA. He kept the performance going in July, posting a ridiculous 0.55 ERA over 33 innings.
Unfortunately, the season began to wear on the 38-year-old's arm. In August and September his ERA was over five. While his peripherals were not quite so bad with a FIP right around four, he ran into some bad luck on BABIP, which led his left-on-base percentage considerably lower than the first half. The fade at the end of the season cost him what would have been a great season and some votes on Cy Young ballots. While the end of the season may be fresh on fans' minds, the production the first four months of the season more than outweighs the final two.
When the year ended, Kuroda's season looked remarkably similar to his 2012, with his ERA being within a hundredth and fWAR within a tenth from the prior year. He didn't come up with quite as many innings in 2013, but he still surpassed 200. Michael Brown addressed Kuroda's potential future earlier this week. The Yankees are sure to pursue him, and hope that at age 39 he has at least one more good year left. The end of the year hurt his stats and his innings weren't overwhelming, but the excellent first four months were just too good to drop him anywhere below an A-.