Dan Haren is on the ballot for the first time this year. The big right-hander pitched 13 years in the majors and was about as durable as they come. Let’s take a look at his Hall of Fame case.
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Daniel John Haren was selected in the second round of the 2001 draft by the St. Louis Cardinals out of Pepperdine University (CA). He debuted in 2003 and in his 14 starts that season had a 5.08 ERA. Haren started the 2004 season in Triple-A and finally made it back to the majors on June 10. He promptly gave up 10 runs and didn’t make it out of the fourth inning. Haren would improve and post a 2.76 ERA the rest of the way bouncing back and forth from the bullpen to the rotation. It wasn’t enough for the Cardinals to keep him as he was traded to the Oakland A’s in a package for Mark Mulder.
Oakland and Arizona
Haren made exactly 34 starts in each of the three years he was with Oakland and made his first All-Star Team in 2007. It was his best season yet as he posted a 15-9 record with a 3.07 ERA and 192 strikeouts. Still, the A’s sent him in a deal that brought back six players including Brett Anderson and Carlos Gonzalez.
In Arizona, Haren continued his excellence. He led the league in 2008 and 2009 in K/BB ratio while starting 33 games and throwing over 215 innings each year. Haren also led the league in WHIP (1.003) in 2009 and finished fifth in Cy Young Award voting. After 21 starts for the Diamondbacks in 2010, Haren was traded again after the home run ball bit him. This time he was moved to the Los Angeles Angels right before the trade deadline for Patrick Corbin, Rafael Rodriguez, Joe Saunders, and a player to be named later who turned out to be Tyler Skaggs.
More Stops Before the End
In his 14 starts for Los Angeles in 2010 he had a 2.87 ERA. The following year, Haren once again led the league in K/BB ratio (5.82) and in starts with 34 while posting a 3.17 ERA and a 16-10 record. Once again he would get CYA votes and finish seventh. After the 2012 season, which was his first since 2004 where he didn’t throw 200 innings, he was hitting the free-agent market. He signed with the Washington Nationals in 2013 and the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2014. Haren was traded once again, this time from the Dodgers to the Miami Marlins after the 2014 season. This move sent Haren along with Dee Strange-Gordon to the Marlins and brought Austin Barnes, Andrew Heaney, Chris Hatcher, and Enrique Hernandez to the Dodgers.
After being traded a final time from the Marlins to the Chicago Cubs at the trade deadline in 2015, Haren retired at the end of the season.
He was a three-time All-Star. Haren also finished in the top-7 in CYA voting twice. While Haren didn’t light up the radar gun, he did have excellent control. He is one of five pitchers since 1920 with a minimum of 2,000 IP to have a K/BB ratio above 4.00. The other four? Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling, Clayton Kershaw, and Max Scherzer. He made at least 30 starts in 11 consecutive years (2005-2015) and threw 200+ innings in seven of them.
The total counting stats aren’t bad, but also aren’t going to blow anyone away. He barely made it to 2,000 strikeouts and didn’t reach 2,500 IP. His overall record was 153-131, which is not great and his 109 ERA+ isn’t even near fellow starters on the ballot such as Andy Pettitte (117), Mark Buehrle (117), or Tim Hudson (120).
If Haren could’ve had a few more years of solid production he may have had more of a shot. As it stands, he just didn’t pitch well enough for long enough. 2,419 2/3 IP in a career is well below the three aforementioned pitchers on this year’s ballot. The only way to get in with so few innings as a starter would be to dominate and have an amazing peak like Sandy Koufax. Haren didn’t have that, and his consistency didn’t last long enough to warrant induction to Cooperstown.
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