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Sell Dan Haren While You Still Can!

Dan Haren

Am I crazy? Some people may tell you differently, but I am so confident in this prediction that I am willing to put anything on the line. This is why I made a slap bet with my friend this week (those of you who watch “How I Met Your Mother” will know what I am talking about). The terms are simple: If C.C. Sabathia outperforms Dan Haren in ERA, WHIP and BAA, I win. The winner gets to slap the loser in the face. Read below for my analysis on both players.

With that said, this week’s edition of the Fantasy Radar will focus on the second half of the season. As we all know, every year a certain group of players always performs better or worse in the second half and I will point out the big ones for you to target (or not target) so you can make that final push and win your league!

Quick Hits

Players to target

  • Jimmy Rollins (SS), Phillies: In the last three seasons, Jimmy Rollins has hit 20 points better in the second half (.296) and slugged more homers in fewer at-bats. He currently sits on a .229 batting average with seven homers and 34 RBI so he makes for a very good buy-low target. 
  • Mark Teixeira (1B), Yankees: How can Mark Teixeira get any better you ask? Well the 21 first-half homer are very nice, but he is currently hitting .275, which is a little lower than expected. Consider that in the last three season Teixeira has hit .319 in the second half and belted 20 more home runs in 200 fewer at-bats. He’s no buy low, but he could definitely be worth the price to get right now.
  • Adam LaRoche (1B), Pirates: He does it every year so people should finally know that this is the time you pick LaRoche up from your leagues waiver wire. Here are his stats from the last three seasons:

    Pre All-Star:
    884 at-bats, .247 BA, 37 HR, .449 SLG
    Post All-Star: 663 at-bats, .314 BA, 41 HR, .578 SLG

Players to sell

  • Corey Hart (OF), Brewers: It may be time to give up on Corey Hart this season. He has already disappointed with a .253 batting average with nine homers and 35 RBI and his second half trends are not encouraging. In his last three seasons, Hart has a .267 batting average in the second half, compared to a first half mark of .296. While the power has no drop off, he stops stealing bases as the season goes on.
  • Justin Morneau (1B), Twins: Morneau has proved himself to be one of the better young first basemen in the game. However, if you are expecting any power from him in the second half, you may want to sell on him now. The numbers are loud and clear. Morneau has hit 61 homers in 987 at-bats before the All-Star break and only 27 homers in 818 at-bats afterwards.
  • Ichiro Suzuki (OF), Mariners: We aren’t selling him on batting average because that will stay. However, if you are expecting him to be your main source of steals look elsewhere. Last season he only collected nine of his 43 stolen bases in the second half and in the last three years combined, he has stolen 41 bases in the second half compared to 84 first-half steals. 

Pitchers

Pitchers to target

  • Johan Santana (SP), Mets: Johan always seems to get better down the stretch. Maybe it’s the pressure of the pennant race, or maybe he owns himself in his fantasy baseball league and steps it up for the fantasy playoffs. Whatever the reason, the numbers are clear. From 2004-2008, Santana has a 45-10 record with a 2.28 ERA and 533 strikeouts in 520 second-half innings. He has been struggling of late, so dealing for him now could be a move that wins you a championship.
  • Roy Oswalt (SP), Astros: In the last three years, Oswalt has waited until the second half of the season to truly shine. His ERA has been over a run better after the All-Star break and he has recorded four more wins in 16 fewer starts. Unfortunately he has already started his run of great starts, but he did leave his last start against the Nationals because of numbness in his fingers. The injury doesn’t seem serious. So if you can get him, now is the time to do it.
  • C.C. Sabathia (SP), Yankees: Sabathia’s 6.66 strikeouts per nine is strangely low this season and some owners don’t like the fact that the new Yankee Stadium is playing like Coors Field. These two things are the reason it is possible to trade for him right now. He is a pitcher who gets better as the season gets older and he also comes up big when it matters. He nearly carried the Brewers on his broad 6-7, 290-pound frame through the playoffs last year. I see a pitcher who has not posted an ERA over 3.00 in the second-half in three seasons and the Yankees are going to need him to be the ace that he has been in the past if they want to make the playoffs.

Pitchers to sell

Dan Haren (SP), Diamondbacks: Haren is going to be my main focus for this section because I want to make sure everyone here’s me loud and clear. Yes, Haren is enjoying an amazing season this year. He has posted a 2.01 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and a .189 opponent’s batting average, which are numbers better fit for a closer’s stat sheet. However, it seems like we say this every year with him. Midway through the season he is a top-three pitcher and then is a top-15 pitcher the rest of the way. Here are his splits from 2006-2008:


Pre All-Star:

382 2/3 IP, 2.85 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, .219 BAA
Post All-Star: 279 IP, 4.42 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, .290 BAA

He still strikes out a lot of batters (8.48 strikeouts per nine) despite the worse numbers elsewhere, so he is not a bad pitcher to own in the second half. However, right now you could probably get a top-notch hitter for him and if that is the case you should sell immediately.

Other pitchers to sell in the second half:

  • Matt Cain (SP), Giants
  • Chris Carpenter (SP), Cardinals

Falling Fast

Adrian Gonzalez (1B), Padres – Batting .258 away from Petco

What happened to Gonzalez mashing the ball away from Petco Park? Before this season he had a career .301 batting average on the road, which helped him post reasonably good numbers despite having the offense sucked out of him by his home park. I want to believe that he will turn things around in the second half, but owners have to be worried because Adrian is being walked at an alarming rate (32 BB’s in June) and for good reason. The Padres already rank last in the majors in runs, hits, RBI, batting average (.233 yikes!!), on-base percentage, slugging percentage, AND…you guessed it, on-base plus slugging percentage. Take Gonzalez out of the lineup and you can guess how much worse the numbers get. It’s getting to the point where you just feel sorry for the guy and hope that he gets out of there sooner rather than later.

On the Mend

Jay Bruce (OF), Reds – Out 6-8 weeks with fractured wrist

The team found no ligament damage to Bruce’s wrist so that’s the good news. The bad news is he will be out until September and you will probably have to make the playoffs without his services in order for him to matter on your team. Also, with wrist injuries, players don’t usually just jump right back in and dominate and since Bruce wasn’t really dominating before it might take him a while to find his groove. He is drop worthy if you don’t have a DL spot on your team.

Jose Reyes (SS), Mets – Out since May 21 with right calf tendinitis

Jose Reyes responded well to recent agility drills during the break and the team is eyeing an early August return as a best case scenario. However, he is still running with pain and gets winded easily. He may not be the same player when he returns since he relies on his legs so much. Hopefully he doesn’t suffer any more setbacks because the Mets need their players back ASAP if they are going to make a run at the playoffs.

Down on the Farm

Chris Tillman, SP, Orioles

Often the forgotten part of the very lopsided Erik Bedard trade, Tillman has been dominating in the minors since his arrival in the Orioles farm system. This season he has 16 starts and has posted a 2.50 ERA with a 1.09 WHIP and 88 strikeouts in 86 2/3 innings. Look for the Orioles to try him out sometime in the second half and he could provide some immediate value if the matchup is right. Man do the Orioles look good for 2011 with pitchers Chris Tillman, Brian Matusz, Brian Bergesen and hitters Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, Matt Wieters and Nolan Reimold!

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Discussion

3 comments for “Sell Dan Haren While You Still Can!”

  1. As the Haren supporter in our slap bet, I reject your reality and substitute my own (you may recognize that last part from MythBusters).

    Posted by bryan | July 16, 2009, 8:17 pm
  2. [...] all remember how I made a slap bet that C.C. Sabathia would beat Dan Haren in ERA, WHIP and BAA in an effort to emphasize my point [...]

    Posted by Beltre Back With Something to Prove | Sports of Boston | August 3, 2009, 5:32 pm
  3. [...] …for the Slap Bet story, click here. [...]

    Posted by Troy Tulowitzki a Top SS in 2010? | Sports of Boston | August 24, 2009, 11:22 pm

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