Why Do You Still Own Dan Haren?

If you have not already done so, it is well past time to let go of Dan Haren. I have been one of the biggest Dan Haren fans for some time. He encompasses all I like to see from a pitcher, or at least he did when he was good and healthy. He is extremely athletic, he hardly ever walks batters, he gets a good deal of strikeouts without having dominant stuff, and he had a large amount of success in both leagues.

Time has not been a friend of Haren and the Nationals are not the only team suffering from Haren’s struggles, you are as well if you have stuck with him this whole time. Yes the strikeout rate is still pretty solid and the walk rate is still tremendous, but Haren just does not have the ability to keep the ball on the ground any longer like he once did. Combine that fact with his robust 16% HR/FB ratio and he is too homer prone for any fantasy roster at this point. If there is some owner in your league who looks at his K/BB ratio and finds a ton of value in it, pawn him off to that owner and get him off your books. If not, it is time to cut him loose and look for a higher quality starter.

As is, he is owned in 63% of Yahoo! leagues which is just far too many midway through June with the type of performance Haren has had this year and the struggles he faced last year. What is frustrating about Haren’s season is that his velocity is back up and he seems to be healthy but it seems that his lack of a quality breaking ball is causing him serious issues. He essentially is only throwing fastball variations with a very, very rare (3.8%) curveball. While the fastballs differ in velocity, the biggest difference on his four variations is 89.5 to 84.9, which is not too very vast. So, you can expect that on over 95% of the pitches you are getting from Haren that you will see a pitch between 85-90 mph, which is probably why hitters are able to tee up and blast homers off of him left and right.

It is time to stop looking in the past and start focusing on the present. Maybe he does get slightly better at limiting home runs, but the likelihood of him improving decreases with each and every start. He has been a replacement level player this season with a dead even 0 WAR and has been just a 1.8 win player in his past 240 innings. That is a far cry from the six wins he was producing on an almost annual basis a few years back. There is a chance cutting him loose ends up being a regrettable move, but there is a bigger chance that holding onto him hurts your odds at winning your league this season.

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Ben has been at RotoGraphs since 2012 and focuses most of his fantasy baseball attention toward dynasty and keeper leagues.

28 Responses to “Why Do You Still Own Dan Haren?”

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  1. jlr says:

    Tommorow could you do “Why do you still own Martin Prado”? That would really help me get on with my life.

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  2. Chief Keef says:

    Because I’m in a very deep league that actually counts K/BB as one of the 6 pitching categories. Standard scoring is played out, it’s shocking how many fangraphs readers/writers play with scoring systems that consist mostly of stats they know to be simple.

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    • KCExile says:

      Yes, but some of us are in old dynasty leagues, where changing the statistics would be very difficult. I’ve also started a few leagues with OBP or OPS as offensive stats, tried to implement some sort of defensive metrics to properly value a players worth, etc. It’s just not the point of fantasy baseball to me. You understand the universe as the categories that you’re responsible for and pick players based on that and try to predict improvement/decline. However, with respect to OBP vs AVG, walk rates are relatively steady with a much higher variation in AVG. So boiling it down, you’re still trying to predict who improves their AVG or was lucky thus overrated. Not everyone in leagues with standard categories is a statistical luddite, in reality many of us use the advanced stats to predict the fantasy stats.

      Just my two cents.

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    • SteveJobs says:

      So I guess you are expecting them to write with every single league variation and setting in mind?

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      • tylersnotes says:

        i’m trying to think how deep a league must be to own haren even with k/bb ratio scoring, given what one assumes haren must cost. If you picked up haren off the waiver wire as a replacement-level player for no cost, then great, you got what he has become. But if you’re paying him anything near the cost people have traditionally associated with his name, you’re paying too much in that format, right?

        i’d sign any petition to ask rotographs to completely change editorial focus away from standard 5×5 scoring, but I don’t think it would change this article one bit. Dan Haren’s k/bb is pretty much the same as Aaron Harang or Joe Blanton. Maybe those guys are owned in your deep dynasty league as well, but acknowledge that no one is going to be able to target their writing for an audience where aaron harang and joe blanton are above replacement level.

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      • tylersnotes says:

        that should be a reply to keef, not stevejobs. My reply to stevejobs would be yes, i think it’s reasonable to expect rotographs authors to write from a mindset more focused on analyzing nontraditional statistics and less focused on actual scoring formats. just exactly as this article does.

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      • ed says:

        Couldn’t you just go on regular fangraphs for your advanced stats? Rotographs is just like a subsection of fangraphs that focuses on 5×5 stats.

        I seem to recall they did a poll a little while back and found that the overwhelming majority of fantasy players (even on fangraphs) played with the traditional statistics, and even most of the the non-trads just added OBP and K/BB. I can’t blame fangraphs for trying to serve the most people. I’m sure if you wanted to write a click-worthy column looking at non-5×5 stats then they’d be happy to have you.

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      • tylersnotes says:

        ed– mike did a poll that just asked about obp leagues and found more than 1/2 of the responders were in leagues that counted obp.

        They also must have data on all the people who play ottoneu, but i’m sure that’s a small section of the overall readership.

        ultimately i get the content i want out of this. i can ignore the ranking posts because they don’t generally apply to any of my leagues. But in the past 4 years i haven’t been in any traditional roto leagues. part of that is my personal preference, but even looking at espn and yahoo this offseason it is clear that alternative formats to 5×5 roto are gaining in popularity. it’s silly to pretend that it’s not an audience.

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  3. willystarr says:

    True even for dynasty?

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  4. jross says:

    So what you are saying is he only helps in 4/5 fantasy catg…

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  5. Dan says:

    Ben, you should update your byline. You write for Talking Chop now!

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  6. Scott says:

    Could you say the same thing about Trevor Cahill? Any reason to own him? He is a source of limitless frustration to me.

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  7. Dave says:

    What about in Players With The First Name “Dan” leagues? Still cut him?

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    • Brad Johnson says:

      There’s no way you can present this as a clear cut decision with the data used in this article. You have to expect that HR/FB rate to be roughly league average going forward or present a reason why it should be elevated. That adjustment puts him around a 4.00 xERA and elite K/BB. In a K/BB league (depending on other stats), that’s a top 25-50 range SP since it comes with an average number of K, WHIP, and W.

      In a standard league, that’s just a bit above replacement level. Which isn’t great but still better than garbage. There are many worse pitchers that are heavily owned. For example, C.J. Wilson has a 21% higher ownership rate (Yahoo) than Haren despite pretty clearly being at least as poor an option (there’s your next article). Jason Hammel’s rate is finally below 50%, but the case to cut him is even more blatant – he should be owned in about 5% of leagues.

      My argument against using Haren is that he’s utterly unplatoonable. With some pitchers you can play park and lineup match-ups, but Haren’s current skill set (low velocity, lots of FB) makes him just as likely to bomb against the Marlins as the Cardinals (that might be hyperbole…).

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  8. JimmyD says:

    Why do I still have Haren on my fantasy team?
    Because it’s a Scoresheet league and I can’t drop him!!

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  9. Robo says:

    Every day I look at my roster and ask myself why I still own Josh Hamilton…

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  10. verd14 says:

    Danny H used virtually the same repertoire (FB variations and 5% CB usage) of pitches in 2011 for much greater success. I’m not quite sure his problems are from his pitch type usage. In shallower leagues there are probably better options out there but I wouldn’t give up just yet.

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  11. Shlum says:

    It’s wrong to own another human being

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  12. Don says:

    Thanks for encouraging all the Haren owners to cut bait. Take a look at his numbers since coming off the DL. I picked up Haren off the WW for his start against the Phillies tonight and was quite happy with a 7IP 2ER win. I’ll keep him around for his next start against the Giants.

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  13. 3Hunna says:


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