Do Not Give Up On Dan Haren

Anyone who knows me or has read this blog knows how much I love Dan Haren. I've owned him each of the past four seasons and defended the man's second half struggles on ESPN's Fantasy Focus podcast to the bitter end. There are few active players who blend Maddux's control with John Smoltz's strikeout numbers and if it weren't for the fact that Chase Field is a tiny park that the Diamondback's hitters can't score runs in, Haren wouldn't survive the second round of fantasy draft annually. Nonetheless, a question has been raised by many which I feel a burning desire to scream the answer (which is no) to: should fantasy owners be concerned about Dan Haren?

True, Dan Haren posted a less-than-Dan-Haren-like 4.62 ERA and 1.26 WHIP after the All-Star break (Haren, Adam LaRoche and Mark Teixeira have collectively patented the "one-half struggler" complex) and true, Haren has posted a very un-Haren-like 4.83 ERA and 1.37 WHIP through his first 59.2 IP this season. Nonetheless, one should not be concerned. Haren's ERA and WHIP are merely cosmetic reflections of incredibly poor luck and sabermetrics, unlike beauty, is not only skin deep.

A look at Dan Haren's advanced statistics reveals that Haren has continued a trend of increasing his K/9 that extends back to his rookie season; it currently sits at a career high 9.39 mark. True, Haren's walk rate per nine is up over 50% this year, but it still sits at a very quality 2.26, which is top 35 amongst all major league pitchers who have logged 30+ innings and well below the major league average of 3.56. Haren's combination of stuff and control of said stuff gives him a strong K/BB rate of 4.13, which is more than double that of the league average, top 10 in baseball and top 5 in the NL. Even with the unlucky 13.1% HR/FB rate and 1.21 HR/9 rate, Haren has a superior 3.56 FIP.

Dan Haren's peripherals scream bad luck and impending progression. His 2010 66.9% LOB% is well below his career mark of 73.1%, his .357 BABIP is 18.2% higher than his .302 career mark, and the Diamondbacks team defense, as rated by UZR/150, is the third best in the major leagues at the moment (ahead of the super defensive Tampa Bay [Devil] Rays).

This is not the profile of a pitcher you give up on. Especially when you consider that Dan Haren' s 47.7% groundball rate is at a career high after dipping to a post-rookie season career low 42.9% mark last season. Haren's xFIP is a spectacular 3.22 -- the seventh lowest mark in the major leagues. Considering that the Diamondbacks infielders (both starters and non-starters) collectively have a +31.0 UZR/150 this season, it's hard to imagine Dan Haren's struggles continue much longer.

ZiPS projects Dan Haren to post a 3.19 ERA and 1.10 WHIP with 12 Wins and a 8.63 K/9 to boot for the reason of the season. There is absolutely no reason, barring God's continued hatred of Dan Haren, that Haren will not at least post those numbers here out. If anyone in your league is dumb enough to be shopping him [at a discount], you buy.


Sexy Rexy said...

I didn't read your post, but I hate you

Just kidding, quality THT work as always! Although there is one minor thing wrong with this post. Normally, I wouldn't say anything, but I'm commenting on a blog, so it's mandatory by law that I call you a stupid idiot and that you don't know anything about what you're talking about, that you have no credibility and should stop writing forever and now sit back and drink my hater-ade.

It's the line "the unlucky 13.1% HR/FB rate" though that I feel compelled to comment on. Sure, on average only 11.5% of fly balls go for home runs. But that's the beauty of average, some people are over the average and some people are under it. Just like Mike hates Forrest Gump because "a little under the average" means full blown (for P.C.'s sake) idiot, I feel like a FB/HR% a little ABOVE average does not automatically equate to "unlucky"

Haren does play in a somewhat hitter's park and years after he has an 8.9 and a 11.7 ratio, it's certainly rational to think that that HR/FB% doesn't go down, and if it does not by THAT much. Playing full seasons, his two highest HR/FB percentages came when he played in one of his best home parks (Oakland)

I also wouldn't dismiss the increase in walk rate. Sure, it's good, but it's still "bad"- for Dan Haren. I don't think it's "1.37 WHIP" bad, but I do think instead of his 1.00 WHIP like last year he has a 1.20 WHIP like in his last season in Oakland.

But obviously because of his amazing GB%, K/9, FIP, and xFIP and all that other jazz and because he's freaking Dan Haren you relax hovering above the panic button. But I do think the HR/FB% and the BB/9 will still hurt Haren, but by "hurt" I mean a 3.33 ERA with a 1.20 WHIP as opposed to a 3.15 ERA with a 1.00 WHIP.

And hell certainly not be this atrocious.

The 'Bright' One said...

Sexy Rexy forgot to mention that you live in your mothers basement.

When you say dumb enough to get him on the cheap, are you referring to Joey Votto who leads all NL first basemen in everything except average. That Pujols guy still hits .330

David "MVP" Eckstein said...

Lemme address those concerns in three parts.

1) I know you say hurt in quotes, but I still take offense to the fact that if this blog was Westlaw and you searched "hurt w/5 BB/9", a post about Dan Haren would pop up. Ooh! Law School jokes!

2) Regarding the HR/FB%, THT has graciously given me access to four year park factor data which includes HR/FB% indexes. According to the data, Chase Field inflates HR/FB% by 10.645988% (give or take a few hundreths of a percent). Over the past 3 seasons (sample is of pitchers with 200 or more IP logged), the average HR/FB rate is approximately 10.5%. Chase field's inflated HR/FB rate, therefore, would theoretically normalize somwhere between 11.5% and 12%. That's means Haren's HR/9 is theoretically inflated by somewhere between 9 and 14%

3) I live upstairs in my parents house, thank you TBO

David "MVP" Eckstein said...

4) I didn't say I bought low on Haren. I needed WHIP bad in that league and Haren is the WHIP doctor. Considering I had Fielder and Morales, I could spare a 1B and still be OK