Four or five years ago, these two guys were high-end fantasy players that you couldn’t dream of grabbing off waivers. Injuries and Father Time have a way of changing things, so here they are now, useful pieces instead of roster stalwarts…
Travis Hafner | UTIL | Ownership: 39% Yahoo, 17.2% ESPN
After posting three straight years of .417+ wOBA’s, shoulder injuries limited Pronk to just 269 games (.339 wOBA) from 2008 through 2010. He finished last season strong, returning from the disabled list in mid-August to post a .302/.389/.492 batting line with 12 doubles and four homers in the final 36 games of the season. That success seems to have carried over into 2011 for the 33-year-old; he’s hitting .354/.407/.646 with four homers in the team’s first 13 games of the season. No, Hafner won’t maintain a .382 BABIP all season, but the power has always been real (career .237 ISO) and he’s getting further and further away from shoulder surgery. Settled in as the full-time DH on a Cleveland team that has showed some surprising offensive punch (team .334 wOBA so far, third best in the AL), Hafner’s only drawback is that he offers no roster flexibility. It’s UTIL or bust for him.
Aaron Harang | SP | Ownership: 48% Yahoo, 47.3% ESPN
I wrote about Harang being the next Petco Park reclamation project back in December, and so far he’s looking good for the Padres. The Harangatang has struck out 16 batters in 18 innings, and his ground ball rate returned to the 39-40% range after sitting closer to 34% over the last few years. The PitchFX data shows that he’s gone back to throwing a ton of sliders (27.8% after three years at or below 20%) which a) is helping rack up those whiffs, b) is probably bad for his arm, and c) could just be sample size noise. Either way, Harang has done enough to warrant a roster spot as a fifth or possibly even fourth fantasy starter. His next outingt comes at the Cubs on Wednesday, but after that he lines for dates against the Braves (at Petco), at the Dodgers, then at home against the Diamondbacks.