Chien-Ming Wang (March 31, 1980) is a Taiwanese Major League Baseball pitcher who currently plays for the Washington Nationals. He was initially signed as an amateur free agent by the New York Yankees for the 2000 season, playing for the Staten Island Yankees. He was considered the Yankees ace pitcher for the 2006 and 2007 seasons.

National baseball teamEdit

Wang pitched for the Chinese Taipei national baseball team in the 2002 Asian Games. In 2004, as the apparent ace of the staff, Wang led the Chinese Taipei national baseball team to the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. Against Australia, he allowed just three hits with no walks, and at one point retired nine batters in a row, to earn the win. He also limited Japan to just five hits in the first six innings.

He is the fourth major leaguer from Taiwan, following Dodgers outfielder Chin-Feng Chen, Rockies pitcher Chin-Hui Tsao and Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Hong-Chih Kuo. Since being called up to the majors, Wang has been idolized in Taiwan where all of his games are televised nationwide, many on public big screens to large audiences. Because of this popularity, he was named one of the Time 100 for 2007.[1]

New York YankeesEdit

Wang rose through the New York Yankees minor league system, including the Single-A Staten Island Yankees, who retired his number 41 in 2006. Wang posted a 1.75 ERA in Staten Island, second-lowest in franchise history.[2] He played for the World Team in the All-Star Futures Game in 2003.

In 2005, Wang was called up from the Yankees' AAA affiliate, the Columbus Clippers. Wang pitched in 18 games, though an injury kept him sidelined for part of the season. He went 8-5 with an earned run average of 4.02. On September 19, 2005, Wang tied a record for assists in a game by a pitcher with nine. In the playoffs against the Angels, Wang pitched 6 2/3 innings and allowed 4 runs, only one of which was earned. The Yankees lost the game and the series.

2006 seasonEdit

In 2006 Wang won 19 games (tied for the most in the majors along with Johan Santana), posted a 3.63 ERA and even picked up his first save on June 3 against the Baltimore Orioles. Wang threw two complete games, though the first, on June 18, was bittersweet: against the Washington Nationals, he allowed a 1-out, 2-run, walk-off home run by Ryan Zimmerman to lose the game 3-2. His first complete game win was on July 28, 2006, a 2-hit, 6-0 shutout of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Yankee Stadium. In his next start, he threw eight shutout innings against the Toronto Blue Jays, in which he got an outstanding 18 ground ball outs. Wang started the first game of the Division Series against the Detroit Tigers. Wang earned the win as the Yankees beat Detroit 8-4.

Overall in 2006, Wang limited batters to a .211 batting average while games were tied, and a .205 batting average in games that were late and close. The Tampa Bay Devil Rays batted just .159 against him, losing three out of four games to the Yankees that Wang pitched. Wang was effective despite the lowest strikeout rate in the majors (3.14 strikeouts per nine innings and 76 strikeouts overall),[3] thanks in part to his allowing the fewest home runs per nine innings (0.5).[3] Wang also led the league in ground ball percentage (62.8%)[4] and allowed 2.84 groundouts for every fly ball out.

At the end of the season, Wang finished second to Johan Santana in voting for the Cy Young award. Wang collected 15 second-place votes, and 51 points. He also received a ninth-place vote, good for two points, in the AL MVP balloting, won by Justin Morneau. In's This Year in Baseball Awards, he was chosen as the top starter in 2006 season with more than 47% of the fan vote.[5]

2007 seasonEdit

Wang began the 2007 season on the disabled list, having injured his right hamstring during spring training. He returned on April 24 against Tampa Bay.[6] On May 5, 2007, Wang pitched 7 1/3 perfect innings before giving up a home run to Ben Broussard of the Seattle Mariners, falling five outs short of a perfect game.[7]

On June 17, 2007, Wang had a superb outing versus the New York Mets, in which he threw 113 pitches through 8 and 2/3 innings for 10 strikeouts (a career high) and just 6 hits. On August 30, Wang took a no-hitter against the Boston Red Sox into the seventh inning before giving up a single to Mike Lowell in the seventh. Rookies Joba Chamberlain and Edwar Ramirez finished the two-hitter, and the Yankees beat the Red Sox 5-0.

In 2007 Wang was 2nd in the AL in wins (19), 3rd for the second straight year in win-loss percentage (.731), 9th in wild pitches (9), and 10th in hit batsmen (8). He had a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage. He also had the lowest HR/9 innings pitched ratio in the AL (0.41), was 3rd in GB% (58.5%) and GB/FB (2.51), and had the 5th-lowest strikeouts per 9 innings pitched (4.70).[8]

Despite his regular season performance, Wang faltered in the 2007 postseason. In the American League Division Series against the Cleveland Indians, Wang started two games, earning the loss in both appearances. He pitched a combined 5 and 2/3 innings, giving up 12 earned runs, for a postseason ERA of 19.06. The Yankees lost the ALDS in four games.

2008 seasonEdit

The beginning of the 2008 season saw Wang at the top of the Yankees rotation and the ace with veterans Mike Mussina and Andy Pettitte. In the final Yankee Stadium season opener against the Toronto Blue Jays, Wang pitched 7.0 innings, allowing only 2 runs and picking up his first win of the season. In his first start against the Boston Red Sox in 2008, he pitched a one-run, two-hit complete game.[9]

On April 22, 2008, Wang recorded a win against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field. The victory, in Wang's 85th career start, made him the fastest Major Leaguer to record 50 wins as a starter since Dwight Gooden, who won his 50th game in his 82nd start on June 29, 1986, at Chicago for the New York Mets. Wang also became the quickest Yankee to 50 wins since Ron Guidry, who accomplished this in his 82nd start.[10]

Wang finished April with a perfect 5-0 record, leading the American League along with Joe Saunders. On May 2, Wang became the first six-game winner in the American League with a win over the Seattle Mariners with just one earned run over six innings. On May 8, Cliff Lee of the Cleveland Indians beat Wang 3-0, handing Wang his first loss of the season. During this loss, Wang allowed three runs and five hits in seven innings. On June 10, after going six starts with two losses and four no decisions since May 2, Wang defeated the Oakland Athletics 3-1 to end the longest victory drought of his career. Through 2008, Wang had the third highest winning percentage of all starting pitchers over the last three years (46-15, .754).[11]

On June 15, Wang was taken out of an interleague game versus the Houston Astros due to a right foot injury he sustained while running the bases, something he was not used to doing as pitchers do not bat in the American League. Wang was diagnosed with a torn Lisfranc ligament of the right foot and a partial tear of the peroneus longus of the right foot. Despite not requiring surgery, he was on crutches and wearing a protective boot. The cast was removed on July 29, but the extensive rehabilitation process prevented Wang from pitching for the remainder of the season.[12] On December 22, 2008, Wang and the New York Yankees avoided salary arbitration when they agreed to a $5 million, one-year contract. Wang made $4 million last season after losing in salary arbitration. He had asked for $4.6 million.[13]

2009 seasonEdit

On April 3, 2009, Wang became the first Yankees' starting and the first game winning pitcher of the new Yankee Stadium in the stadium opener exhibition game against Chicago Cubs. After the Cleveland Indians beat the Yankees 22-4 on April 18, manager Joe Girardi said, "We have some time. We have a day off I think Thursday and we're going to have to decide what's best for Chien-Ming Wang and the team."[14] Through April 18, Wang was 0-3 with a 34.50 ERA.

There was speculation that the right foot injury Wang sustained during the 2008 season caused him to compensate with the rest of his pitching motion, leading to his 2009 struggles. MLB Tonight discussed the differences between Wang's mechanics in early 2008 (before he was injured) and his mechanics during the Cleveland game on April 18. On April 22, Brian Cashman, at a Q&A at Southern Connecticut State University, confirmed Wang's release point was 5 inches higher than this time last year.[15]

After being removed from the rotation and sent down to Tampa to work out mechanical issues, Wang was diagnosed with weakness in the muscles of both hips and placed on the disabled list. He was activated from the disabled list on May 22, 2009, and on his first day on the active roster, he was brought in from the bullpen. After two more relief appearances, Wang went back to the rotation, but he struggled once again in his first and second starts back.[16] On June 28, Wang earned his first win of the season, also his first since June 15, 2008. He gave up two runs over 5.1 innings.[17]

Wang was placed on the DL on July 15 and had season ending shoulder surgery on July 30. After the Yankees won the World Series, Wang participated in the championship parade through the Canyon of Heroes but acknowledged it "would have been more fun" if he had been healthy.[18] On December 12, 2009, Wang was non-tendered by the New York Yankees making him a free agent.[19]

Washington Nationals Edit

2010 seasonEdit

On February 19, 2010, the Washington Nationals announced they had signed Wang as a free agent to a $2 million deal (plus up to $3 million in incentives).[20] In June, it was thought that Wang would return to the majors in late July or early August.[21] However, Wang's rehabilitation had been inconsistent, and there was no timetable for his return to the majors.[22] In September, the Nationals acknowledged that Wang would not pitch in the majors at all during the season, but instead was preparing for the instructional leagues in the fall.[23]

Wang was non-tendered after the 2010 season.[24]

2011 seasonEdit

On December 16, 2010, Wang re-signed with the Nationals to a one-year, $1 million contract with $4 million worth of potential performance incentives.[25]

Scouting reportEdit

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File:Wang in bullpen 2.jpg

A finesse pitcher with a power pitcher's velocity, Wang relies on the combination of a low to mid-90s four-seam fastball (but he uses his two-seam sinker more often), a sinker, along with a slider, changeup, and splitter.[26] His sinker, which is responsible for his elevation to ace status, has very impressive lateral movement and is thrown at greater than average velocity, sitting in the 91-94 mph range. His strikeout pitch is an average slider that closely resembles the fastball coming out of his hand, thus getting batters to swing ahead of the pitch. Wang also throws a split-finger fastball, though he only uses the pitch sparsely when in need of a strikeout or double play. Wang's pitching style is characterized by efficiency, command of the strike zone, few walks, few home runs allowed but also records very few strikeouts. Wang works quickly and uses his ground-ball inducing sinker to produce many double plays. This efficiency often allows Wang to maintain a low pitch count deep into games. In Taiwan and the minor leagues, Wang threw a more conventional assortment of pitches, including a four-seam fastball, a changeup, and far more splitters. The sinker, which has become Wang's signature pitch, was developed during his minor league career with advice from Neil Allen, his AAA pitching coach, and his AAA catcher, Sal Fasano.[27]

Prior to the 2008 season, Wang relied on his sinking fastball about 90% of the time. However, after occasional bad outings, especially during the 2007 ALDS, Wang has worked to fully incorporate a slider and changeup into his repertoire. Through his first three starts of 2008, Wang used his slider roughly 15% of the time and his changeup around 8%.[28]

Personal lifeEdit

In a 2006 New York Times interview, Wang revealed that he is the biological child of the man he formerly thought was his uncle.[28] Due to the media frenzy created in Taiwan over this, he briefly refused to give interviews to Taiwanese media.[29] Wang has also learned basic English, and is able to give interviews to the American media without an interpreter. He currently resides in Fort Lee, New Jersey.[30]

Wang is married to Chia-Ling Wu. The couple have one son, born on June 16, 2009, named Justin Jesse "J.J." Wang.

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