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Will Success Spoil Dan Haren?

Some thought the A’s were selling high when they traded Dan Haren to the Diamondbacks following the 2007 season. He was coming off a season in which he set career bests in wins (15), ERA (3.07) and strikeouts (192). However, Haren had a FIP 63 points higher than his actual ERA and in the second half of 2007 he fell from a 2.30 ERA to a 4.15 mark. Additionally, many felt Haren was the beneficiary of both his home park and the A’s strong defense.

But Haren went out and pitched even better in 2008. He set career bests in wins (16), strikeouts (206) and WHIP (1.130) while his ERA (3.33) was the second-best mark of his career. Many now consider Haren one of the best starters in the game and he ranks in the top 10 in most lists of starting pitchers. His latest ADP is 55 according to Mock Draft Central.

Despite Chase Field being a good hitter’s park, Haren pitched just as good last year at home as on the road. He is young, durable and has a fine assortment of pitches. Last year Haren threw more cutters, giving batters another weapon to fear.

The projection systems agree with popular opinion, as they show Haren in the top 10 among starting pitchers in all four fantasy categories. Haren looks to be one of the safest pitchers around, as there are neither injury concerns nor any unprecedented inning totals warnings surrounding him. Also adding to his attractiveness as a fantasy player is the expected comfort from a new contract and additional familiarity with his surroundings in the National League.

If anything, fantasy owners may be undervaluing Haren relative to his starting pitcher peers in current mock drafts.