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Entries in Dan Haren (3)


Decline, Illustrated. Featuring: Dan Haren

Once upon a time, Dan Haren was what, in baseball, could only be referred to as a horse: 33-34 starts, 200+ innings, and each one, valuable. He flew a tick under the radar pitching for no-name teams in Oakland and Arizona, but when a pitcher is good, people will notice. 

Dan Haren is also the kind of pitcher that you could call, "unlucky." In his 11 years as a major league starter, he's never won more than 16 games. He's also had six seasons where he lost 10 or more games, with career highs of 13 in 2006 and 2012. And considering his 4-8 record this year, chances are that he will set a new career high (low?) by the end of the 2013 season.

But pitchers' won-loss records are silly. They are hardly the proper barometer for evaluating a pitcher's current performance. Nor is it right to use pitching wins and losses as a predictive tool for future performance.

So then, what should you use for predicting future performace.

You can use xFIP, which might be the best predictive pitching stat available on the interwebs.

xFIP stands for Expected Fielding Independent Pitching. It's a stat that holds pitchers accountable for the things that they can control (walks, hit batsmen, strikeouts and home runs). It assumes league average fielding and league average HR/FB rates. It is one of the best stats available for predicting a pitcher's future performance. For a more detailed definition of xFIP, go here.

Dan Haren's current xFIP for 2013 is 4.09. Which is far less unsightly than the atrocious 5.70 ERA he is currently carrying around on his back. But a 4.09 xFIP would be a career high for Haren.

But stats like xFIP are still foreign to a majority of the baseball loving population.

So how about this?

How hard is Dan Haren being hit this year compared to, oh, let's use 2011 and 2008?

In 2008, Haren was an All-Star who finshed the season with an ERA of 3.33 and an xFIP of 3.16. He also had a WAR of 6.1. In other words, Dan Haren was fantastic in 2008.

In 2011, Haren had the second lowest WHIP of his career at 1.024, an ERA of 3.17 and an xFIP of 3.29. He also set a career high for single season WAR with 6.2. In other words, Dan Haren was also fantastic in 2011.

But let's illustrate this better with pictures, shall we.

Dan Haren 2008 SLG% Against.

 Dan Haren 2011 SLG% Against

Dan Haren 2013 SLG% Against

Look at how much redder this season's map is.

The slowing of Haren's fastball 

  • In 2008, Haren's fastball topped out at 96.3 MPH, and averaged out at 91.1.
  • In 2013, Haren's fastball has topped out at 92.3 while generally sitting at 89.2. 

Those two to three MPH of difference can be huge, especially when a pitcher is not locating his pitches as well as he did five years prior. 

Some pitchers, as they've aged, have learned to adjust to their diminishing velocity.

Last year, I thought that Haren was entering into the decline phase of his career, but held out hope that he would fade slowly in the same way that Kevin Milwood faded.

This year, I know that Dan Haren is declining. But it doesn't look like the Milwood comp is going to hold water. It looks like Haren's career is going the way of another comp of his according to Baseball-Reference, Doug Drabek. Both of whom (Drabek and Haren) were dependable and outstanding pitchers through their age-30 seasons. They also both fell of a steep cliff afterwards.

Drabek held on until he was 35. As for the 32-year old Haren, with the way that teams are starting to pinch every penny that they can, I fear he won't make it past next season.  


Haren Loses His Cutter

Dan Haren of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim saw his ERA expand in his last starts.  His most popular pitch, the cut fast ball, seems to have abandoned him.  You can see part of the problem by looking at a map of the location of the pitch:

Dan Haren, cut fastball, 2011 through August 4th.Haren caught the strike zone with 52.3% of these cutters.  Since then, that percentage dropped:

Dan Haren, cut fastball, 2011 since August 9th.That chart shows only 41.7% of his cutters ended up in the strike zone.  With Dan missing the zone more, Haren is forced to come in with his cutter, and batters are waiting for it:


Haren's CutterThrough 8/4Since 8/9
BA Allowed .195 .316
Slugging Pct. .298 .592
Chase % .195 38.5
Called strike % .195 25.0


Haren gave up four home runs on the cutter through 8/4.  Since then he allowed five long balls.  Until he gets control of the pitch back, Dan will be vulnerable to the long ball.


InDepth Spotlight: Dan Haren vs. David DeJesus

In tonight's A's-Angels game, keep an eye on how L.A.'s Dan Haren pitches to Oakland leadoff hitter David DeJesus. Haren has been relying heavily on his cutter this season, throwing it 35.1% of the time, the most of any pitch. The results have been good; opposing batters have hit only .148 against the pitch (4 hits, 27 PA, 68 total pitches).

Meanwhile, DeJesus has not hit cutters well in his career.

David Dejesus vs. Cutters (2008-Present)
(Click to enlarge)
DeJesus has hit only .171 against cutters since 2008, with no extra base hits (6 hits, 38 PA, 165 total pitches). Against righty cutters, he's only hitting .130. Expect Haren to lean heavily on the pitch when DeJesus is in the batter's box tonight.