POTD Aaron Harang -- B Game

=== Bad "Hair" Days dept. ===

You could dissect Harang's pitch velocities and movements a dozen ways off fangraphs.  The problem is, a year's data "smooths" the two Harangs into one composite, and you'll fail to understand the "A Game" Harang and the "B Game" Harang. 

Understanding Harang is a question of understanding how good he is, or isn't, when he has his A stuff, and of estimating his chances to have that A stuff -- that is, a fresh arm -- in 2010-11.

Some games he has the hair on his fastball, and some he doesn't...


=== B Stuff ===

Meet Aaron Harang with a heavy, lifeless arm.  Here is a video of him in August, against the Nationals, with his B stuff.

As you can see, Harang throws his fave two pitches about 85%, 90% of the time:

  1. An 88-91 fastball painted, and 
  2. An overhand 79-83 slider that he slides up and down the velo scale.  Usually it breaks more as he throws it slower.

Most analysts see Harang as throwing 5 pitches.  Actually, he's mostly just varying the speed on his slider.


When his arm is not fresh, his slider is just a wrinkle, sort of a Shigetoshi Hasegawa humpback slider (one of my least-favorite pitches), but he still commands it very well and keeps it down.

Harang has Moyer-like control of his fastball just about every game.


=== Mechanics ===

As you can see, Harang has very little weight transfer -- we big guys don't like to hurl our gorilla-like abdomens around any more than we have to -- so he's got a minimized darts-in-the-pub motion that leads to superb command.

He hides the ball beautifully, pitches with a fairly high front side considering he doesn't rock back, and he short-arms the ball from behind his ear.  All of this is fine if you can get up to 90 mph, in George Sherrill style, and Harang can.


=== Results ===

Harang had his B stuff most of 2008 and 2009, probably due to throwing like 215-235-235 innings during his glory run of 2005-07.

Still and all, he was pitching very well despite bad luck.  Here is his 2009:

  • K - 7.9
  • BB - 2.4
  • CMD - 3.3
  • BPV - 90 (50 being Shandler-draftable, 100 being Cy Young contender)
  • BABIP - .340 or so (.310 being usual for him)
  • HR/F - 12% (9-10%, even in Cincy, being his 2005-07 norm)

Shandler's take on him:  Skills aren't quite as good as in 2005-07, but main difference has been run support and a few more HR/F.  Not that far off from 2007.  UP:  15 wins, 3.75 ERA

In other words, Shandler goes with the "sheer bad luck" crowd on assessing Harang's miserable 2008-09, as do I.   Look, the guy was playing on a rotten team, in front of a lousy offense, in a tiny park, for a manager who's less than astute about how tired he is or isn't.

Ron Shandler (and I) are all about finding 70, 80, 90 Base Performance Value pitchers who are camoflaged by bad luck.  Here you are.


Part 2

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