Under the Fantasy Hood: Is Dallas Braden the Real Deal?

Fantasy Knuckleheads@_knuckleheadsCorrespondent IApril 9, 2010

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 01: Dallas Braden #51 of the Oakland Athletics pitches against the Detroit Tigers during a Major League Baseball game on July 1, 2009 at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

The first game of the year for Dallas Braden was a surprising one for both the Mariners hitters and fantasy owners who actually did start him; a surprise that came with great reward.

It took Braden seven innings to fan 10, yes that’s right ten Mariners batters before the night was over. In fact, the only two hitters to survive the ‘K’ fest was Frank Gutierrez and Ichiro Suzuki.

In all, Braden flabbergasted Seattle by allowing only one run,and four hits with a very nice 1.29 ERA and an even better 0.71 WHIP despite the no decision.

So with a start like that you should run out and pluck him off the waiver wire right?

Not so fast, because history is in the background screaming “Please, for the love of God, don’t pick him up!”

In the beginning of the year, everyone makes  a run for the bank so to speak on hot pitchers, thinking they can get another grand slam performance out of them, but with Braden, the likelihood isn’t very good.

Although I can’t say 100 percent he won’t shine on Sunday (unless I have some supernatural powers I don’t know about...nope, nothing) what I can say is if you follow his career path and look under the hood a bit closer, you’ll find that there is very little to look forward to with Braden.

Let’s first start with Braden’s career stats.

Braden’s 10-K performance was very nice, it really was, but historically Braden almost NEVER throws 10 smokers a game.

Yes, Braden has been working the entire offseason on his new changeup—a pitch that is engineered for strikeouts—but one pitch alone can’t transform a guy who hasn’t eclipsed a K/9 rate of 6.0 since 2007.

In addition to having a sub-par career K/9 rate (5.9 to be exact) Braden is an extremely hittable pitcher (9.9 H/9 lifetime).

But it isn’t just the surface stats that tell the story.

Braden, historically, has enjoyed a bit of success in both April and June in his lifetime. In April, Braden’s career BABIP is .284 with 44 career strikeouts; the highest SO total of any month for Braden.

June has also been favorable to Braden with a .241 BABIP . He also gives up the fewest hits (30) and runs scored (13) historically in the month of June.

But that’s the absolute threshold on Braden.

Even with a bit of achievement in April and June, Braden is not among a crop of pitchers you would consider top notch, until he shows us that he has really elevated his play.

He won’t walk much, but he also won’t provide a ton of strikes, and he doesn’t really have the best situation to preserve wins. In all, Braden looks nice from a distance, but  he gets uglier the closer you get.

If you are looking for someone to add to your bench, Braden might be worth the consideration, so long as there isn’t any other options out there that are better.

Upcoming Matchup Details

Against whom: Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim Sunday against Joe Saunders , or Mr. April .
Career versus LA:
1-3 with a 4.36 ERA in five career starts.
Analysis: Sunday’s game has disaster written all over it for Braden and here’s why:

Despite the Angels being 1-3, the team is seventh in the AL in team batting (.252), third in the AL for home run totals (four), third in the AL in hits (34) and fourth in the AL in total bases (50); not great news for a pitcher that gives up a lot of hits.

In addition to dealing with those types of stats, Braden will have to face four batters who have been known to hit Braden well:

  • Eric Aybar (.429 vs. Braden)
  • Mike Napoli (.444 vs. Braden)
  • Hideki Matsui (.333 vs. Braden)
  • Brandon Wood (.333 vs. Braden)

Braden pitched with a numb left foot against the Mariners last Tuesday, and a lot of his success came from first pitch strikes; something that won’t happen with the aforementioned hitters. These guys are swing happy batters that usually make very good first contact.

Braden will also go against Joe Saunders (0-1) who is literally unbeatable in the month of April, so there is even less of a chance for Braden to cough up a win.

It’s a game that is worth avoiding for Braden owners (22 percent ownership in Yahoo leagues).


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