The appreciation of the 38-year old Derek Jeter is a main story in the Bronx in 2012. You could say that Rafael Soriano’s impact on the team is unmatched. Raul Ibanez? Splendid. Eric Chavez? Tremendous. Nick Swisher? Clutch and impressive with middle of the order guys out. Ichiro? Everything the Yanks needed for who he is NOW and how old he is NOW. But there is one guy who, so far, is the MVP of the team. A guy who Pinstripe Passion thought wouldn’t even be on the roster come September 1.

Hiroki Kuroda. That is who.

Japanese pitchers don’t usually hang-in for the long term in Major League Baseball. They come over with tired arms. They come over having pitched a ton of pitches and innings. They come over with a high amount of pressure to perform for their very passionate country. It just doesn’t work. Add to that Kuroda, coming from the National League West for four years, and having to battle the monster lineups in the American League East and American League as a whole. Plus, Kuroda is 37 years old! When the Yanks got him during the offseason, two words came to mind: GOOD LUCK!

But Kuroda has been insanely good. He has dominated good lineups in August, Texas and rival Boston to be exact. In fact, against the Rangers, the two-time defending American League champs, Kuroda took a no-hitter into the 7th inning. His cut fastball, in and out to lefties and out and in to righties, baffled the masses in Ranger uniforms.

Kuroda is the MVP of the Yanks thus far, however, mostly because CC Sabathia has been injured twice this year and on the disabled list both times, Andy Pettitte is out with a fractured ankle until at least the beginning of September and Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes are both gigantic question marks. Freddy Garcia has battled through so many starts, but can you really trust him in October? Probably not.

Kuroda has come through, and in a big way. So here is to you, Hiroki, from Pinstripe Passion, who doubted you from day one.

Umaku itta shigoto. Job well done. Now just do it in October because that is the other thing Yankee fans are waiting for.

Article by Mike Lindsley at