HIDEKI IRABU, SP, YANKEES, 1998
Irabu was a high-profile pitcher coming out of Japan, and he forced his way onto the Yankees, where he joined a staff that featured Andy Pettitte, David Wells, David Cone and Dwight Gooden.
He was impressive in his first full season in New York, as he went 13-9 in 28 starts and finished with a 4.06 ERA in 173 innings, earning a World Series ring despite not pitching in the playoffs that year. However, that’s as good as it got for “Fat Toad.” He never matched his strikeout totals from Japan and watched his ERA balloon over each of the next four seasons. The Yankees finally dumped him in a trade for Ted Lilly, and Irabu was out of baseball by 2002 at the age of 33. Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Red Sox is followed a very similar career path.