Harang Deal Could Be a Steal

December 5, 2010 at 12:43 pm 1 comment

Aaron Harang

The San Diego Padres have struck a deal with starting pitcher Aaron Harang for 1 year and $3-$3.5M. This could end up a major steal of a deal for the Padres.

From 2005-2007 Harang’s numbers were very consistent and All-Star caliber. From 2008-2010, though, Harang’s numbers have been on a steady decline:

Year IP HR/9 ERA FIP
 2005  211.2  0.94  3.83  3.67
 2006  234.1  1.08  3.76  3.68
 2007  231.2  1.09  3.73  3.71
 2008  184.1  1.71  4.78  4.79
 2009  162.1  1.33  4.21  4.14
 2010  111.2  1.29  5.32  4.60

We see a huge decrease in innings pitched, a huge increase in HR/9 rate, and a huge increase in ERA, with his FIP also rising but not quite as much.

Harang’s career GB% is 37.9, meaning he gives up a ton of flyballs, something that no doubt hurt him in Cincy. Moving to Petco should help, at worst, bring his HR/9 rate back to what it was prior to 2008.

Moving to Petco also means that Harang will have a rangy outfield with Cameron Maybin, Will Venable, Ryan Ludwick and Aaron Cunningham, hopefully helping a BABIP that has gone consistently up (in order) from 2007-2010: .298 to .317 to .339 to .346

Other than health, the biggest hurdle is Harang’s drop in K/9 and rise in BB/9. The weird thing is that you usually see a decrease in velocity with a drop in K rate but Harang actually had his 2nd best fastball velocity (90.5), 3rd best slider velocity (82.5), and 2nd best curveball velocity (76.6) since his first full season in 2004. The problem seems to be in his command. His zone% was by far a career worst at 43.6%. His previous full-season worst was 52.1%.

Even if Harang is fully healthy he might have a hard time finding his form that made him a 5 WAR pitcher from 2005-2007. He will need to miss more bats but I see no other reason why he cannot come close to reaching that 2005-2007 form with the help of Petco and his rangy outfield.

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