Dan Haren: The Best Pitcher No One Is Talking About

Johnny LawrenceCorrespondent IJuly 20, 2009

DENVER - JULY 05:  Starting pitcher Dan Haren #15 of the Arizona Diamondbacks delivers against the Colorado Rockies during MLB action at Coors Field on July 5, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. Haren earned the win as the Diamondbacks defeated the Rockies 4-3.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Zack Greinke's season-opening streak provoked a rush to the history books, Roy Halladay speculation stimulated "what if's" from fans nationwide, and the Giants' Johnathan Sanchez tossed a no-hitter amid a mediocre campaign.

Perhaps if Dan Haren had to battle back from anxiety or topped every MLB team's wish list, than he too would receive the ink the others are soliciting.

Among these pitchers, only one has pitched into the sixth inning in each game this season.

Only one has yielded fewer baserunners than innings pitched.

Only one sports an earned run average south of 2.00.

That pitcher is Haren.

Hitters fear Haren more than most. They recognize the difficulty and significance of reaching base against him.

In 138 innings, he has surrendered 93 hits and 18 bases on balls. Unheard of in any era, Haren's WHIP (walks and hits per nine innings) measures in at an astounding 0.80.

Wish to know the next closest qualified "competitor" in this category? Tim Lincecum is miles away, at 1.04.

Houston Astros manager, Cecil Cooper, commented after a June 12 meeting with Arizona, “He’s real efficient with his pitches. He pitches in the zone. He pitches ahead. He attacks the zone with his fastball and his cutter and slider and everything.”

This prophetic statement remains applicable six starts later.

Haren has frequently thrown hitters off balance with the strongest pitch in his arsenal, a split-finger fastball.

But his second, third, and fourth pitches are what separates him from the pack.

Well, at least that what former Oakland A's and current Milwaukee Brewers manager, Ken Macha, professes.

“He threw a lot more fastballs for me when he pitched (in 2005-06) and he didn’t have the cut fastball. So that’s something that he’s picked up. If you go out there and throw 92, 92, 92, somebody’s going to hit it. But when you’ve got these other pitches you throw for strikes, that 92 looks like 102. It’s right by you.”

Haren throws offspeed pitches when fastballs are anticipated, and vice-versa. Exceptional command provides him the ability to keep hitters guessing.

And he can hit, too.

In 43 at-bats, Haren has 11 hits, including a homer to center field against the Cincinnati Reds.

There is no telling where Haren's season will take him, but if his performance thus far is any indicator, Diamondback fans have much to look forward to.

His 1.96 earned run average, .187 batting average against, and 138 innings rank first in baseball, and he looks to improve his eye-popping statistics down the stretch.

Haren is turning in one of the more impressive seasons in recent memory. Let us all turn our heads from the less deserving to observe his remarkable contributions.