Friday, January 27, 2012
Dan Haren: Mr. Underrated
Throughout baseball no one has been more underrated than Dan Haren. Since 2008 Haren has been one of the games best starting pitchers, even better than his all-star teammate Jered Weaver. Based on wins above replacement (WAR) he has been better than Felix Hernandez, Jon Lester, Jered Weaver and Cole Hamels. All four of those guys are all regarded as some of the games best pitchers.
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Since '08, Haren has averaged 5.8 WAR per season. That's usually good for at least a top 10 pitcher depending on the year. Besides Felix Hernandez, Haren has been more durable than both Lester and Hamels since 2008. Haren doesn't have a lot of velocity on his fastball, his average is around 90 MPH. As a result he isn't a big strikeout guy. He's slightly outside of the top ten since 2008 but he strikes out the same percentage of guys as Cole Hamels does. He does an excellent job at not giving up walks as well, he walks less than 5% of the batters he faces. His ERA-/FIP-/xFIP- during that time frame has been 79/76/78, if those numbers don't qualify someone as a top pitcher than I don't know what does.
Haren has shown that he's one of the best pitchers in baseball, he may even be the best pitcher on his team. Many believe that Weaver is the better of the two, but a strong vase could be made for Haren.
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Both do some similar things very well. They both limit walks, while striking out batters. Weaver gives up less home runs but Arizona is an easier park to hit in, so as a result Haren gives up more home runs. Once you look past ERA, you can tell that Haren's peripherals are much better than Weavers are. Weaver relies much more on flyballs than Haren does. It's amazing that he doesn't give up more long balls. Haren on the other hand relies primarily on groundballs. Haren has also been more valuable during that time. It's only one win but nonetheless.
Haren has done all of this and has not won a cy young award. Last season Weaver finished second in cy young voting last season when Haren was almost a full win better. Eventually, Haren will get his due. Hopefully it's sooner rather than later.