Dennis Sarfate

Dennis Scott Sarfate (born April 9, 1981) is an American former professional baseball pitcher. He played for the Milwaukee Brewers, Houston Astros, and Baltimore Orioles of Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, Saitama Seibu Lions, and Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB). While an average reliever in the MLB, Sarfate became one of the greatest closers in NPB history after moving his career overseas. Sarfate holds several NPB records, including most saves in a season and most by a foreign-born pitcher. As of 2020, his 234 career saves rank fifth-most in NPB history. He is a 3× NPB All-Star, a 3× Pacific League saves leader, a 5× Japan Series Champion, won the Japan Series Most Valuable Player Award, won the Pacific League MVP Award, and won the Matsutaro Shoriki Award.

Dennis Sarfate
Sarfate with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks
Pitcher
Born: (1981-04-09) April 9, 1981
Queens, New York
Batted: Right
Threw: Right
Professional debut
MLB: September 3, 2006, for the Milwaukee Brewers
NPB: April 14, 2011, for the Hiroshima Toyo Carp
Last appearance
MLB: October 4, 2009, for the Baltimore Orioles
NPB: April, 2018, for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks
MLB statistics
Win–loss record5–4
Earned run average4.53
Strikeouts131
Saves0
NPB statistics
Win–loss record27–20
Earned run average1.57
Strikeouts574
Saves234
Teams
Career highlights and awards
  • 3× NPB All-Star (2011, 2014, 2016)
  • Japan Series Champion (2014, 2015, 2017-2019)
  • Pacific League MVP (2017)
  • Japan Series Most Valuable Player Award (2017)
  • 1× Matsutaro Shoriki Award (2017)
  • 3× Pacific League Saves Leader (2015, 2016, 2017)

Early life

Sarfate was born in Queens, New York, to Dennis Sarfate and Linda Williams.[1] He has two sisters, Jaime and Jennifer.[1]

Amateur career

Sarfate graduated from Gilbert High School in Gilbert, Arizona in 1999.[1] He was an All-American and First Team All-State, after going 10–2 with a 1.75 ERA and 110 strikeouts in 81 innings in his senior year.[1] He was the Scottsdale Tribune Pitcher of the Year in 1999.[2]

The Texas Rangers selected Sarfate in the 15th round (465th overall) of the 1999 MLB draft.[2][3] He did not sign, enrolling in college. He attended Arizona State University in 2000, majoring in sports psychology, and Chandler-Gilbert Community College in 2001.[1]

Professional career

Milwaukee Brewers

The Milwaukee Brewers selected Sarfate in the ninth round (268th overall) of the 2001 MLB Draft.[4] In 2003, while pitching for the Single-A Beloit Snappers in the Midwest League, he was 12–2 with a 2.84 ERA in 26 starts, and 140 strikeouts (second in the league) in 139.2 innings.[5]

He made his MLB debut on September 3, 2006, striking out three batters in 1.1 scoreless innings against the Florida Marlins.[6] Sarfate pitched in eight games for the Brewers, with a 4.32 earned run average (ERA), and 11 strikeouts in 8.1 innings.[7]

Houston Astros

The Brewers traded Sarfate to the Houston Astros on September 11, 2007, for cash considerations.[7] After beginning his professional career as a starter, Sarfate spent 2007 as a relief pitcher. He made seven relief appearances for Houston, and was 1–0 with a 1.08 ERA and 14 strikeouts in 8.1 innings.[8]

Baltimore Orioles

On December 12, 2007, the Astros traded Sarfate along with designated hitter/left fielder Luke Scott, pitchers Matt Albers and Troy Patton, and third baseman Michael Costanzo to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for shortstop Miguel Tejada.[9]

Sarfate pitching for the Baltimore Orioles in 2009

Sarfate also began 2008 as a relief pitcher. On July 28, 2008, he was moved to the Orioles' starting rotation.[10] He returned to the bullpen after just four starts, in which he went 0–2 while allowing 18 runs in just 1523 innings. Overall, in 57 games, he was 4–3 with a 4.74 ERA and 85 strikeouts in 79.2 innings.[8]

Sarfate began 2009 in the Orioles' bullpen, but was placed on the disabled list in May after posting a 6.39 ERA in eight appearances.[11] He was activated in September, and pitched much better, posting a 3.48 ERA over 12 relief appearances. Overall, he was 0–1 in 20 relief appearances with a 5.09 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 23 innings.[8]

In 2010, Sarfate pitched with the Triple-A Norfolk Tides, where he was 2–2 with 20 saves (tied for seventh in the International League) and a 2.73 ERA in 47 games, as he struck out 72 batters in 56 innings.[5] He was named an MiLB Organization All Star.[12]

Hiroshima Toyo Carp

In 2011, Sarfate signed with the Hiroshima Toyo Carp of Japan's Central League.[13] Sarfate quickly became one of the top closers in Japanese baseball.[14] He was a 2011 All Star.[15] In 2011 he was 1–3 with 35 saves (second in the Japan Central League) and a 1.34 ERA in 57 games.[16][5] In 2012, he was 2–5 with nine saves (ninth in the league) and a 2.90 ERA in 47 games.[5][17]

Saitama Seibu Lions

He spent one season with the Saitama Seibu Lions in 2013.[18] Sarfate was 9–1 with 10 saves (seventh in the Japan Pacific League) and a 1.87 ERA (eighth) in 58 games (seventh).[5][19]

Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks

In 2014, Sarfate joined the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, and got the final save of the 2014 Japan Series. He was a 2014 All Star.[20] For the season he was 7–1 with 37 saves (second in the Japan Pacific League) and a 1.05 ERA (third) in 64 games (third).[5][21]

In 2015, Sarfate closed out the 2015 Japan Series as well, as the Hawks won their second championship in a row.[22] For the season he was 5–1 with 41 saves (leading the league) and a 1.11 ERA (fourth) in 65 games (third).[5][23]

During the 2016 season, Sarfate recorded 43 saves, a new record for most single-season saves in the Pacific League.[24] He was named a 2016 All Star.[25] For the season he was 0–7 with a 1.88 ERA (seventh in the league) in 64 games (second).[5][26]

On April 2, 2017, Sarfate recorded his 178th save in Japan, setting a new record for most saves by a foreign pitcher in Nippon Professional Baseball history. The record was previously held by Marc Kroon of the Yomiuri Giants (177).[27] On July 4, 2017, Sarfate recorded his 200th save, becoming the sixth pitcher in NPB history to reach that threshold and the first foreign pitcher. On September 5, 2017, Sarfate earned his 47th save of the season, breaking the record for most single-season saves in Japanese baseball history.[28] He finished the season leading the league with 54 saves, as he was 2–2 with a 1.09 ERA (fourth in the league) in 66 games (second).[29][5][30] Sarfate earned two saves and a win in the 2017 Japan Series, and won the Japan Series Most Valuable Player Award.[31] He won the Pacific League MVP.[32] He also received the Matsutaro Shoriki Award, for the year's greatest contribution to Japanese professional baseball.[33]

Sarfate had season-ending surgery on his right hip in April 2018, after pitching six innings.[34] He missed the 2019 season as well.[35][36] His 234 career saves rank fifth-most in NPB history.[37]

On October 14, 2020, Sarfate underwent hip reoperation and spent the 2020 season in rehabilitation.[38] On November 30, 2021, Sarfate announced his retirement from professional baseball, having missed the past three seasons due to injury.[39]

References

  1. "Player Bio: Dennis Sarfate - Arizona State University Official Athletic Site - Arizona State University Athletics". Arizona State Sun Devils. April 17, 2013. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  2. "Player Bio: Dennis Sarfate". Arizona State Sun Devils. Archived from the original on February 4, 2013. Retrieved March 23, 2012.
  3. "15th Round of the 1999 MLB June Amateur Draft". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved March 27, 2022.
  4. "9th Round of the 2001 MLB June Amateur Draft". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved March 27, 2022.
  5. "Dennis Sarfate Minor, Fall, Winter & Japanese Leagues Statistics & History". Baseball-Reference.com. Sports Reference. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  6. Crawford, Ryan (September 3, 2006). "Brewers tripped up in finale". Milwaukee Brewers. MLB.com. Archived from the original on April 18, 2008. Retrieved March 27, 2022.
  7. "Astros acquire Sarfate from Brewers". Houston Astros. MLB.com. September 11, 2007. Archived from the original on November 7, 2017. Retrieved November 4, 2017.
  8. "Dennis Sarfate Stats". Baseball-Reference.com. Sports Reference. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  9. "The Astros Acquire Tejada in Exchange for 5 Players". The New York Times. December 13, 2007. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 27, 2022.
  10. Fitzpatrick, Mike (July 28, 2008). "Orioles move Sarfate into struggling rotation". USA Today. Associated Press. Retrieved July 7, 2010.
  11. "O's place RH Dennis Sarfate on DL, recall RH Bob McCrory". OurSports Central. May 3, 2009. Retrieved March 27, 2022.
  12. "Dennis Sarfate Stats, Highlights, Bio | MiLB.com Stats". Minor League Baseball. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  13. "Hiroshima Carp re-sign Bullington, Sarfate, Barden". Yakyubaka. December 2, 2011. Archived from the original on November 7, 2017. Retrieved March 23, 2012.
  14. Coskrey, Jason (June 8, 2015). "Sarfate continues to pitch at high level for Softbank". The Japan Times. ISSN 0447-5763. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  15. "NPB Bullet Points: WBC Participation, All-Star Notes, Hiroshima Pitchers". NPB Tracker. July 25, 2011. Retrieved February 28, 2020.
  16. "2011 Japan Central League Pitching Leaders". Baseball-Reference.com. Sports Reference. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  17. "2012 Japan Central League Pitching Leaders". Baseball-Reference.com. Sports Reference. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  18. Coskrey, Jason (May 5, 2015). "Hawks closer Sarfate savors 100th save in Japan". The Japan Times. ISSN 0447-5763. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  19. "2013 Japan Pacific League Pitching Leaders". Baseball-Reference.com. Sports Reference. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  20. "International baseball". NPB Tracker. May 12, 2014. Retrieved February 28, 2020.
  21. "2014 Japan Pacific League Pitching Leaders". Baseball-Reference.com. Sports Reference. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  22. Coskrey, Jason (October 29, 2015). "Hawks claim back-to-back Japan Series titles". The Japan Times. ISSN 0447-5763. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  23. "2015 Japan Pacific League Pitching Leaders". Baseball-Reference.com. Sports Reference. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  24. "Baseball: Senga feasts on Fighters again". Kyodo News. August 12, 2017. Retrieved August 21, 2017.
  25. "Yanagita, Yamada top All-Star balloting". The Japan Times. June 27, 2016. Retrieved February 28, 2020.
  26. "2016 Japan Pacific League Pitching Leaders". Baseball-Reference.com. Sports Reference. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  27. 好き, 僕は 野球 (April 2, 2017). "Dennis Sarfate is now Japan's foreign saves leader in league history". Fan Interference. Retrieved July 5, 2017.
  28. "Hawks' Sarfate notches record 47th save". The Japan News. September 6, 2017. Archived from the original on September 14, 2017. Retrieved September 14, 2017.
  29. "2017 Japan Pacific League Pitching Leaders". Baseball-Reference.com. Sports Reference. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  30. Coskrey, Jason (October 23, 2017). "Hawks have look of budding dynasty after latest triumph". The Japan Times. Retrieved October 26, 2017.
  31. Allen, Jim (November 4, 2017). "Baseball: Hawks stave off BayStars to clinch Japan Series in 6 games". Kyodo News. Retrieved November 4, 2017.
  32. Coskrey, Jason (November 20, 2017). "SoftBank's Dennis Sarfate, Hiroshima's Yoshihiro Maru win NPB MVP awards". The Japan Times. Retrieved February 28, 2020.
  33. Allen, Jim (April 6, 2018). "Baseball: Closer Sarfate swayed by affinity for Hawks, security". Kyodo News. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  34. Nagatsuka, Kaz (November 2, 2018). "Hawks closer Yuito Mori prepared well for pressure-packed playoff games". The Japan Times. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  35. "Hawks pitcher Dennis Sarfate to miss start of season". The Japan Times. March 23, 2019. Retrieved April 8, 2019.
  36. Coskrey, Jason (October 24, 2019). "Hawks display tremendous depth, talent en route to Japan Series three-peat". The Japan Times. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  37. "Hawks pitcher Dennis Sarfate to miss start of season". The Japan Times. March 23, 2019. Retrieved February 5, 2020.
  38. "Nikkan Sports baseball news (Japanese) ソフトバンク・サファテ人工股関節置換術が無事終了language=ja-JP". Nikkan Sports (in Japanese). October 19, 2020. Retrieved December 28, 2020.
  39. "SoftBank's record-holding closer Dennis Sarfate retires". The Japan Times. December 1, 2021. Retrieved December 1, 2021.
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