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Just The Sports: Too Hyped Up?

Just The Sports

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Too Hyped Up?

Even when the former Oakland A's pitching trio of Tim Hudson, Barry Zito, and Mark Mulder were largely dominating hitters across the major leagues, there was still a consensus which they themselves espoused multiple times that the best A's pitcher was someone named Rich Harden. Apparently, this opinion was a result of Harden possessing the nastiest and filthiest pitches among the four.

Yet, Harden has had a bit of trouble living up to the praise heaped upon him when he was still an untested player, largely due to the fact his body keeps betraying him and landing him on the disabled list. It has taken Harden a little over four seasons to amass seventy-five regular season starts; Tim Hudson, who I will compare Harden to for the purpose of this article, made the same amount of starts in only two and one-half seasons.

If Harden was indeed the best pitcher, then it stands to reason he would have a significantly better career, but actually, he and Hudson have had virtually mirror image careers with a few minor discrepancies. In Hudson's first seventy-five starts of his career, he allowed hitters a batting line of .228 BA/.302 OBP/.348 SLG with a .223 GPA. Harden's corresponding numbers allowed are .228 BA/.307 OBP/.341 SLG with a .224 GPA. With the pitchers' fielding-independent ERA, Harden has a slight lead due to the fact he has given up .70 HR/9 IP to Hudson's .81 HR/9 IP and also has a higher strikeout rate than Hudson (8.31 K/9 IP to 7.81 K/9 IP). Therefore, Harden's fielding-independent ERA is 3.70 and Hudson's is 3.89. Unfortunately for Harden, any slight advantage he may seem to possess goes up in smoke since he has not been healthy enough to help out the A's as much as Tim Hudson did and so while inning for inning he may look to be better, Hudson still had a more cumulative positive impact because he was not always injured.

Due to Harden's past ailments, it is highly unlikely that he will ever be able to sustain healthiness so he will probably never turn out to be the best of the four pitchers in reality.



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