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Stealing Dan Haren in Real Life and in Fantasy Baseball

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Stealing Dan Haren in Real Life and in Fantasy Baseball
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When I got back into town last night, my friend picked me up from the airport and informed me of a trade that had just gone down between the Angels and Diamondbacks. Dan Haren had been sent to the Angels in exchange for starting pitchers Joe Saunders, Tyler Skaggs, Patrick Corbin, and reliever Rafael Rodriguez.

There has been plenty analysis of the trade today and I'll leave that to the likes of Keith Law. Instead, I'll just say that the Angels essentially stole Dan Haren away from the D-Backs and you should follow suit if his fantasy owner is still fretting over a 4.60 ERA and bad career second half numbers.


Haren Headed to Anaheim
Despite his high ERA this season, Dan Haren has continued to show extremely strong peripheral numbers. He has struck out nine batters per nine innings, good for 12th best in baseball (minimum 80 IP), while walking only 1.85 per nine innings, good for 13th best in baseball. That K/BB rate (4.86) ties him with Josh Johnson for the fourth best in baseball. Haren ranked ninth best in FB365's latest updated RAW Pitcher Ratings

The problem with Haren this season has been home runs allowed, which currently stands at a career worst 1.47 per nine innings. His BABIP against has also been an issue, currently sitting at an inflated .350 despite a 20.3 percent line drive rate allowed, the same line drive rate he finished with last season.


There may have been fewer better places in baseball for Haren to have landed than in Anaheim. According to Stat Corner , Angel Stadium represses home runs (a score of 100 is neutral and Angel Stadium's score is 94). This is especially true during night games, when the marine layer rolls in from the coast.

The Angels currently have two fly-ball pitchers on their staff that have succeeded despite above average fly ball rates. The most notable is Jered Weaver (career 48.5 percent fly ball rate and 8.2 HR/FB rate) and Ervin Santana (career 43.6 percent fly ball rate and 9.8 HR/FB rate).

Dan Haren currently holds a 38.9 percent fly ball rate and a career worst 13.9 percent HR/FB rate). Despite having a track record of worse numbers in the season's second half, Haren is almost certain to see a decline in HR/FB rate and BABIP pitching in Anaheim.

There is, of course, the issue of moving from the National League to the American League. However, Haren had plenty of success as a young maturing pitcher in the AL West before he was traded to Arizona. He also caries big-time strikeout potential, which should also help offset pitching in the American League.

The bottom line: Haren is still a dominant pitcher and one that has every chance to provide value in every pitching category (saves aside). Use his 4.60 ERA and move to the American League as reasons your opposing fantasy owner should deal Haren to your club.


Going to Arizona
Joe Saunders is the "big name" heading to Arizona, but he is hardly the key piece to the equation. Saunders has had exactly one above average season in the Major Leagues and that one season can somewhat be cast off as a fluke (1.94 K/BB rate, .267 BABIP).

Also, his line drive rates have been increasing every season since 2008. Saunders is not a big strikeout pitcher (well below average actually) so the move to the National League won't benefit him as much. He also moves from a pitchers park to one of the best hitters parks in baseball. Having allowed 1.09 home runs per nine innings over his career in a home park that suppresses home runs leads me to believe that the home run ball will become an even bigger issue in his new home.

To me, the key name in this deal for Arizona is Tyler Skaggs. Skaggs is a 19-year-old lefty that stands at a lanky 6'4". I was able to see him pitch once this year and was thoroughly impressed. His mechanics are sound and he uses his leverage very nicely upon releasing the ball. His fastball is currently sitting in the 89-91 mph range, but most reports point toward his velocity increasing to the 92 mph range as his body matures.

His fastball was clearly dominating opposing Midwest League hitters (aside from Twins top prospect Aaron Hicks, who took him deep in the first inning) while his curve ball looked like a sharp 12-to-6 hammer, an already plus offering. Coming into this season, Skaggs wasn't ranked as a top five prospect in the Angels system, but he has about as much project-ability as anyone.

I wouldn't be surprised to see him turn into a solid number two starter if everything goes right. If not, he should still be a very solid mid-rotation arm and a fine prospect in dynasty leagues and minor league roster keeper leagues.

Patrick Corbin is putting up some nice numbers this season, but from what I've gathered about his pure "stuff", he doesn't have close to the same ceiling as Skaggs. Corbin, who just turned 21 this month, is also a left-handed starter. He features a 88-91 mph fastball with good sink and command.

However, reports about his secondary offerings have been less faltering. He'll need to come up with a true strikeout pitch, like Skaggs' curveball, to keep his strikeout totals high at the upper-levels.

The reliever, Rafael Rodriguez (25-years-old), has bounced between the majors and minors for the past two seasons and projects as that type of pitcher going forward.

This deal should be both good for the Angels and Dan Haren owners not only the rest of this season, but for the next two-to-three years.


Charlie Saponara is the owner/author of fantasybaseball365.com and can be contacted at cs.fb365@gmail.com .  Follow FB365 on Twitter .
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