|ESPN.com: Eric Karabell||[Print without images]|
Name value can be a dangerous thing in fantasy baseball; it often drives owners to trust a player longer than they should. Washington Nationals right-hander Dan Haren, for example, used to be a top-10 fantasy pitcher, an excellent innings-eater who delivered wins, strikeouts, ERA and WHIP on a consistent basis, regardless of which league he pitched in. Then came 2012, things fell apart and he hasn’t been able to fix them since. Haren has been on the disabled list for a sore pitching shoulder and is scheduled to come off the DL for Monday’s outing in Philadelphia on ESPN, but by no means should fantasy owners trust him.
Regardless, Haren is owned in more than a quarter of ESPN’s standard leagues, despite nasty numbers that point to a pitcher in obvious decline. For those who pay attention to walks and strikeouts, Haren does look enticing there, but it’s surely muted by 19 home runs allowed -- one off the big league lead -- and a brutal hit rate. Haren is far too hittable these days, even in the National League and against average offenses. He throws right-handed, but somehow right-handed hitters are mashing him for a .330 batting average, .960 OPS and 12 home runs, teeing off on what is generally some variation of a fastball under 90 mph. From a strict sense, Haren should lower his ERA from its current mark of 6.15, making him seem like a modest buy-low option, but this doesn’t mean he’ll be anywhere near as valuable as in the past. Haren’s closing in on 2,000 innings before turning 33 and, well, that’s a dangerous combination.
Put simply, Haren’s name value continues to exalt him to a higher standing in fantasy circles, but there’s little evidence the old reliable version -- the one with the career 3.76 ERA and 1.19 WHIP -- is returning Monday or anytime soon. Here are other notable pitchers owned in too many leagues, probably because of name value.
Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants (80.0 percent owned): Some hold out hope last season’s modest second-half turnaround is coming, but again, there’s little evidence to support this. The strikeouts just aren’t worth it.
Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee Brewers (69.6 percent): Even last year’s version was still worth owning in all leagues, but as with Haren, it’s a lot of innings in a short amount of time, and Gallardo never featured the excellent WHIP.
Tim Hudson, Atlanta Braves (68.8 percent): The 37-year-old threw well in Philly this weekend, winning for the first time in two months, but ongoing neck injuries are a concern, and he’s certainly not a K guy.
Ian Kennedy, Arizona Diamondbacks (36.7 percent): Forget about his amazing 2011 season, when he was 21-4, because he hasn’t been close to that since. Kennedy brings strikeout potential, but he’s putting way too many men on base.
Andy Pettitte, New York Yankees (16.2 percent): I admit to being on board back in March, but it’s been a month since he threw more innings in a game than hits allowed, and obviously his durability is hardly pristine.
Brett Anderson, Oakland Athletics (17.4 percent): Speaking of durability, most people think the only options with this left-hander are injury or strong performance. Before the former occurred multiple times this season, he proved the latter was no given with a 6.21 ERA. Don’t be waiting on him in 10- or 12-team leagues.
Tommy Hanson, Los Angeles Angels (12.8 percent): Still only 26, Hanson was supposed to be an ace. Then he tore a rotator cuff, the Braves gave up on him -- a sure sign to move on, frankly -- and he’s been below average since the start of 2012. Don’t buy on Hanson when he comes off the DL in a few weeks.
Ubaldo Jimenez, Cleveland Indians (11.6 percent): Honestly, I’m perplexed why fantasy owners continue to defend this wild right-hander. It’s been more than a month since he even made it through six innings of an outing, as control remains a major problem.
Ricky Nolasco, Los Angeles Dodgers (11.3 percent): Nolasco, scheduled to make his Dodgers debut Tuesday, has an unsightly career ERA of 4.44. One would think moving to a better team in a pitcher’s park would help, but that’s exactly what Nolasco wants you to think! Pitchers get hit in L.A. as well.
Rick Porcello, Detroit Tigers (6.5 percent): Would you believe he’s still only 24? As for his numbers, there are reasons for optimism, notably in strikeout rate and xFIP, but this is the AL version of Nolasco until he proves otherwise. Something always seems to go wrong.