When Dan Haren was traded from Oakland, some questioned whether his abilities would transfer as well in a non-crater ballpark. A shift to the National League probably helped and Haren’s home run per fly ball rate was never unspeakably low, but those questions have been put to sleep with back-to-back golden seasons. Haren recently topped the 200 innings mark for the fifth consecutive season and he’s got a nice little trend occurring with his strikeout per nine ratios:
His overall strikeout percentage has increased right alongside his per nine ratio and right now he’s striking out about a quarter of all batters faced. Combined that with a career low walk ratio and it’s no surprise that his FIP is the second best of his career; an uptick in fly balls and downed infield fly ball percentage has his tRA at the third best.
Sky Kalkman detailed the usage and recent fascination of the cutter in baseball here. Go ahead and add Haren to the list of users. Baseball Info Solutions has a career high 22.4% of Haren’s pitches being thrown as cutters. This pitch – sitting 86-87 – has enough velocity separation from his fastball and slider that I would guess it’s not a case where a pitch is being misclassified. Haren’s cutter represents his best pitch on an overall run value and per 100 basis:
wFB: 11.4 (0.83 per 100)
wCT: 18.0 (2.66 per 100)
wCB: 0.2 (0.03 per 100)
wSF: 9.1 (2.28 per 100)
Gameday is identifying a sect of Haren pitches as a cutter as well. The difference is the usage. Gameday says 6% which is a pretty drastic differential. Just eyeballing his slider velocity (GD: ~83-84, BIS: 80-81) it seems one or the other is mixing up the sliders and cutters. I’d guess the algorithm is the one mixing things up here, but the pitches do look pretty similar minus velocity, so maybe his true usage lays somewhere in the middle of the two percentages.
Whether the success is fully wedged on the implementation of a cutter or not, Haren is certainly doing something right.
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