Masahiro Tanaka has taken Major League Baseball by storm. He seems to only get better week after week. Its hard to deny that Tanaka has grown to become one of the elite pitchers in Major League Baseball.
Early on the Tanaka deal was heavily criticized. Critics and skeptics were quick to point out that his 24-0 record in 2013 was achieved in the NPB, an inferior Japanese league.The criticism was understandable, there's a lot of risk attached to a 155 million dollar deal over 7 years with a pitcher who never threw in the MLB.
Tanaka has proven his critics wrong. He has won a Major League leading 11 games while enduring only 1 loss. Tanaka also has an ERA of 1.99 (2nd to Johnny Cueto) with 113 strike outs (2nd to David Price). I think its safe to say that Tanaka has lived up to the hype.
So at this point its not unreasonable to entertain the idea of Tanaka winning Rookie Of The Year. Although I personally feel that Tanaka will be deserving of the honor, its not hard to understand why so many think otherwise.
Many feel that Tanaka isn't a true rookie, after all he has played professional baseball in Japan's equivalent to the MLB. Its also not typical for a "rookie" pitcher to make 22.5 million dollars a year. So for obvious reasons I can understand the argument.
In my opinion if Tanaka continues to pitch at this level there is no way you can deny him the honor. The MLB has essentially left the decision regarding Rookie of the Year up to the writers. It is absolutely necessary for the league to take a stance on the issue. By not doing so this creates a grey area where the power ultimately lies in the hands of the writers, which isn't necessarily consistent year to year.
The fact that Ichiro Suzuki won Rookie of the Year in 2001 meanwhile Hideki Matsui was denied the honor in 2003 shows firsthand the inconsistency this grey area can create. Only time will tell, regardless of what happens we can only hope that our ROOKIE phenom continues to dominate the league.