Last Wednesday, former Major League Pitcher, Hideki Irabu, was found dead in his Rancho Paolos Home. Authorities ruled his death as a suicide because he hung himself.
As baseball mourns his death and reflect back on his career, let us reflect back on his Major League career where his Major League struggles originates from his declining Earn Run Average (ERA) in Japan. This examination may explain his decision to commit suicide, clarifying the causes contributing to his death.
Hideki Irabu was pitching phenom with the Chiba Lotte Marines who had a breakthrough season in 1992, resulting in a declining ERA throughout the next four seasons.
In his rookie season, he had a 3.89 ERA that soon dipped to 3.53 in 1989. However, he experienced a hiccup in the 1990 season, where he posted a 3.78 ERA. His hiccup was exasperated in 1991 after posting a 6.88 ERA.
But in 1992 he made a breakthrough, trimming his ERA to a 3.88.
In the last four seasons before transitioning to the Majors, he posted gaudy numbers that gradually improved the following seasons. In 1993, he posted a 3.10 ERA; in 1994, 3.04 ERA; in 1995, 2.53 ERA
In his final season with the Marines in 1996, he had a career-low 2.40 ERA.
However, his ERA exploded to 7.09 ERA in his first season with the 1997 Yankees, the highest ERA in his professional career.
The next season appeared to be another declining ERA season, where he posted a 4.08 ERA. This turned out to be his lowest ERA in the Major Leagues. In the 1999 season with the Yankees, he posted a 4.84 ERA; in the 2000 season with the Montreal Expos, 7.24 ERA; in 2001, 4.86 ERA.
In his last season in the Major Leagues in 2002, he posted a 5.74 ERA with the Texas Rangers before returning to Japan to play for the Hanshin Tigers.
In his five seasons in the Major Leagues, he has been unable to replicate his performance in Japan prior to entering the Major Leagues, inflating and deflating his ERA.
This reason, therefore, contributed to the demise of his professional career, an outcome that could have contributed to his death.