DME is back

Hey hey!

So after a week of tanning/sizzling in sunny Florida, I'm back, full force, to continue to troll the baseball world for interesting information. Lots of cool stuff happened while I was gone, but by far the coolest (in my mind) was getting my email read on the ESPN Fantasy Focus podcast.

I sent in an email a few weeks ago regarding Dan Haren and his peripherals as a rebuttal to Berry's irrational hatred of him and constant bashing. While he (Berry) entirely missed my point and selectively misused the extensive information I sent in (or as Berry put it, "the numbers state me"), Nate did do a pretty good job defending my general thesis. I was entirely shocked to find out that Matthew and Nate did not know what FIP was (perhaps because they know FIP under the alternative acronym DIPS) and although I know both The Bright One and Sexy Rexy sent in emails explaining FIP and providing pages 2 of my email (which contained UZR data and the likes), I still wrote a follow up email anyways. I do not know how they did not know (or could not guess) where I was from, even without page two (in which I signed my email as Jeff of Chicago) because I wrote "Go Cubbies" on the first line of the email. So where they came up with "go Hilltops", I'll never know.

Below are both my original email to Fantasy Focus and my follow up email, in case you are interested and find my argument interesting (though you can read 90% of it here, between the post and my comments about the post):

Hey Matt and Nate (go Cubbies!)

Matthew Berry has often stated that he has an extreme dislike of Dan Haren because he "can't pitch in the second half." I know that Haren had a comparatively bad second half last season, but as a Haren owner last season, I did not recall Haren ever being truly terrible in the second half. So I took a look at the numbers:

Dan Haren's First Half:
8 W, 2.72 ERA, 125.2 IP, 112 K (8.0 K/BB), 22 BB (1.58 BB/9), 5.09 K/BB, 10 HR (0.72 HR/9), 98 Hits, 0.96 WHIP

Dan Haren's Second Half:
8 W, 4.18 ERA, 90.1 IP, 94 K (9.4 K/9), 18 BB (1.79 BB/9), 5.22 K/BB, 9 HR (0.90 HR/9), 106 Hits, 1.37 WHIP

Yes, from a fantasy perspective, Haren was worse in 2 categories (ERA, WHIP) after the all-star break, but he also improved another category (Ks) and remained consistent in another (Ws). His ERA/WHIP were still very serviceable; a far cry from horrible by any means.

From a real life perspective, Dan Haren was almost as good in the second half as he was in the first half -- just less lucky. Haren's control improved and while the BBs and HRs per nine regressed a little, Haren's peripherals across the board were solid and consistent. If anything got worse, it was the hits rate per nine -- something that Voros McCracken and the minds at BP proved long ago that a pitcher has little, if any control over (although some pitchers -- mainly strikeout pitchers -- do seem to exert more "control" over hits per nine than others).

In fact, Dan Haren's real life career splits look like this:

1st Half
35 W, 3.23 ERA, 599.1 IP, 488 K (7.3 K/9), 134 BB (2.01 BB/9), 3.64 K/BB, 62 HR (0.93 HR/9), 516 Hits, 1.09 WHIP, 3.59 FIP

2nd Half:
34 W, 4.12 ERA, 476 IP, 402 K (7.6K/9), 108 BB (2.04 BB/9), 3.72 K/BB, 60 HR (1.13 HR/9), 524 Hits, 1.33 WHIP, 3.83 FIP

What does this data tell me? Haren is not a second half fizzle. The difference is FIP (0.24 runs per nine) is marginal. Haren gives up a few more HR/9 in the second half, but thats about it. The hits also increase in the second half, but Haren's been in front of some notoriously terrible defensive lineups in Arizona, so he can hardly be blamed for their fielding failures.

Especially in recent years, Haren has been a premier pitching force. His control is Maddux-like and if it weren't for a terrible offense/defense behind him, he would be a perennial Cy Young winner. I think Matthew Berry needs to apologize. His dislike of Haren is almost as unfounded and irrational as his disdain of Big Fat Bartolo Colon.

Jeffrey of Chicago

Dear Matt and Nate,

I have a follow up to my previous email regarding Dan Haren, FIP and the likes, as I would like to clarify a few details.

1) FIP stands for Fielding Independent Pitching statistics and is almost identical to DIPS (defense independence pitching stats). It basically removes the luck element from a pitchers game by calculating his strike out, walk and home run rates to determine if a pitcher is over/under performing his results based on the peripherals. xFIP is similar to FIP, but it normalizes home runs per FBs (HR/FB) to 11% (league average). Basically, what I was trying to get at with Dan Haren's FIP data is that he has been getting somewhat consistently unlucky in the ERA department during the second half of his career, which is strange. I dug deeper into the data and found some interesting explanations as to why Dan Haren's ERA is much higher than his FIP (especially in the second half of the season).

Fangraphs has a defensive metric called UZR/150, which calculates a player's (or collectively a team's) defensive ability per 150 games in terms of runs prevention against the replacement level. As always, approx. every 10 runs equals one win in either direction (positive or negative). A team with a positive UZR/150 of 10 runs, therefore, would be worth 1 full win above the league average thanks to its awesome defensive prowess. A team with a 0 UZR/150, on the other hand, would have league average defense. Here are the UZR/150 ratings of each of the teams Dan Haren has played for since joining the Oakland rotation full time in 2005:

Oakland, 2005: 3.4 fielding runs, 9th best in baseball (9/30) -- above average
Oakland, 2006: -1.3 fielding runs, 16th worst in baseball (15/30) -- about league average
Oakland, 2007: -3.8 fielding runs, 8th worst in baseball (23/30) -- below average
Arizona, 2008: -5.2 fielding runs, 8th worst in baseball (23/30)

What should be duly noted here is that Dan Haren has played for bottom half of the league defensive teams (negative fielding runs) in all but one of his full major league seasons. You can't blame his ERA struggles on the poor fielding abilities of guys like Mark Reynolds and Adam Dunn, who joined the Dbacks in the second half of last season. Dan Haren's peripherals (and innings) make him a true stud.

2) Dan Haren was, in my opinion, totally undervalued this season. Where guys in his tier (referring to peripherals here) like CC, Lincecum and Santana went in the first two or three rounds, Haren consistently went at the end of rounds 4 and 5. You say other guys who go later or at the same time as Haren are safer picks, but what is "safer" than a guy whose career ERA is under 3.6 (his ERA has only once been above 3.75 as a full time starting pitcher), has the best control in baseball, strikes out guys like clockwork and goes 200+ IP season after season? The mere fact that guys of lower tiers get drafted before him or in the same round as him indicates that people do not properly recognize the dominant force that Haren truly is.

3) When I talked about Wins in my email, I did not mean to insinuate that Wins were anything but the situational byproduct of many circumstances beyond Haren's control, but rather to highlight that despite the ERA and WHIP "struggles" (as if a 4.00 ERA can be called struggling), Dan Haren has remained stellar in the other 2 starting pitching categories (Ws, Ks) and thus you're hatred of him is somewhat irrational and overstated. Your perception of Dan Haren is almost in line with what Sam Walker called your irrational hatred of Big Fat Bartolo Colon during his prime years...I truly believe him to be a top 5, let alone top 10, starting pitcher (along with the undervalued Javier Vazquez, whom you also sadly hate and whom I will defend to the death another day)

4) Finally, I would like to point out that I am actually from Chicago, not Deluth, so screw the hilltops. GO CUBBIES!


Look for more cool baseball posts in the next few days, though the frequency with which I provide them may decline in the near future.


Sexy Rexy said...

Hey narcissist, TBO already wrote this post and me and him already sent rebuttal emails.

David "MVP" Eckstein said...

well i didnt get to read thru all of your posts until this morning, so BLAH