Over at FanGraphs, there’s a fairly thoughtful post about Aaron Harang’s 2008 season, and what to expect from the big guy going forward. The conclusion:

This past season saw his highest percentage of flyballs in a full season at 44%, so he threw more balls in the air, and a higher percentage than usual left the park. This should regress moving forward, but the dropoff in strikeouts does signal some sense of a dropoff. He lost some velocity on the fastball, but nothing drastic enough to claim a large role in the much poorer 2008 campaign. Is Harang as bad as he performed in 2008? No, not by a longshot, but there was a serious performance decline here that cannot be chalked up solely as bad luck, which could have to do with some type of injury, or could signal the start of his decline. He will likely be much better next season, but the potential award winner from 2005-07 may be gone for good.

Rob Neyer (subscription required) notes further:

The Reds are going to be a popular dark horse next spring, but they’re not going far unless Harang is luckier (likely) and better (who knows?).

Indeed.

10 Responses

  1. doug

    Harang was injured and came back with poor mechanics that took him a while to figure out. No doubt in my mind he will be back to the old Harang next year so long as he stays healthy.

  2. Dan

    Is there somewhere you can go to see Harang’s splits over specific dates? The article refers to it but doesn’t show them.

    I’d like to see Harang’s detailed splits up til that San Diego game, and then the next 2 months (or so) after that, and then his final 2 months.

    My hope would be that the middle 2 months were terrible and the final 2 months were Harang back to normal… but who knows… I’ll see if I can find something like that.

  3. Dan

    OK, answering my own question, I found the month-by-month breakdown on baseballreference.com.

    Basically Harang had a good April and a good October… and was just TERRIBLE in between.

    Not sure if that bodes well or is just meaningless random noise…

    Anyway, look at his month-by-month breakdowns. (These are opposing hitter stats, obviously.)

    HARANG 2008

    Apr – .232/.277/.401 (192 PA)
    May – .317/.349/.532 (152 PA)
    Jun – .314/.344/.536 (163 PA)
    Jul – .357/.522/.929 ( 23 PA)
    Aug – .337/.387/.744 ( 96 PA)
    Sep – .247/.295/.416 (167 PA)

  4. GregD

    Players performance over time is like watching individual corporate stock prices. You don’t know until after the fact whether a downward spike is a low point that will bounce back up or the beginning of a longer term negative trend.

    That said, I only have hope that he bounces back to his pre-2008 self. I’m afraid overuse last year and through the Narron years may come back to haunt him through the final years of his contract.

    Obviously, he has to get better if this team is going anywhere the next couple of years.

  5. justcorbly

    No one knows how Harang will pitch year. Prudent management would hope he returns to form, but plan on that not happening. Continued focus on adding to the retinue of starters is in order.

  6. Dan

    I’d love to get a young, high-strikeout lefty to get in our rotation.

    Jonathan Sanchez (SF) and Manny Parra (MIL) come to mind.

    But in general, I agree… we can’t ever get to the point where we shouldn’t be looking for more good starting pitchers.

    Even if we wind up with more than we need (which I doubt!), we’d be in great shape to be “sellers” on the trade market. Nothing has more value on the market than a good starting pitcher.

  7. Kevin

    I feel like there’s no really good way to know if Harang’s gonna bounce back or not. I personally have faith in the guy, but I guess I agree that it might not be a bad idea to look for someone for some cheap, buy low type starting pitching pickups in case he doesn’t pan out. I just hope we don’t trade away Cueto…

  8. David

    Manny Parra? Really? Living in Milwaukee and seeing the guy about 25 times this year, PASS.

  9. David

    Dan – Parra had an absolute meltdown at the end of the year last year and was replaced by Seth McClung. In fact, if you remember Parra was subject to Prince Fielder’s shots to the face during a game.

    He’s got a 2:1 SO to BB ratio. So while his GB to FB ratio is pretty good at 2:1, his command is troublesome and gets him into a lot of bad situations.

    Moreover, he is incredibly tempermental and cannot control his emotions. If he gets touched up early or his command is off, he struggles to rebound.

    Finally, Parra gave up 5 HR in 10 innings at GABP and has awful numbers away from the confines of Miller Park.

    He’s not entirely terrible and if he was 23 I’d say maybe, but the guy just turned 26 and is a big, big risk to be nothing more than an average middle reliever.

    He is basically the same guy as Matt Belisle, only Belisle is a couple years older.