Bryan Price, Aaron Harang, and Pitch Selection

Price claims that Harang has "isolated himself into a two pitch pitcher". Price argues that Harang only throws his fastball and slider, so I decided to compare 2010 Harang, to 2009 Harang, 2007 Harang, and career Harang.

According to Fangraphs in 2010 Harang has thrown a fastball 60.4% of the time, and his slider 26.3% of the time for a combined total of 86.7% of the time.

In 2009 Harang threw his fastball 68.1% of the time, his slider 21.3% of the time for a combined total of 89.4% of the time.

For comparisons sake lets consider 2007 Harang's best season. In 2007 Harang threw his fastball 69.1% of the time and his slider 19.5% of the time for a combined total of 88.6% of the time.

Also for the sake of analysis in his career Harang has thrown his fastball 68.2% of the time and his slider 20.8% of the time for a combined total of 89% of the time.

Price is correct that Harang throws fastballs and sliders an overwhelming majority of the time but Harang has always essentially been a two pitch pitcher, who occasionally works in a curve ball and a change up to keep hitters honest.

What has changed is the effectiveness of Harang's fastball and slider. While Harang's average velocity is around his career norm the value of his fastball is -2.3 and the value of his slider is -1.2 in 2010. Both pitches had negative value in 2009 and 2008. Compare that to 2007 when the value of Harang's fastball was 15.6 and the value of his slider was 12.1.

I believe Slyde has mentioned that Harang's slider has lost some of its bite. I am not privy to (do not know where to find) the information about the break on Harang's slider. But if Harang has lost his great slider it makes sense that the value of his fastball has also dropped, as hitters will simply wait for a nice fastball.

I do not know what has caused Harang to lose the break on his slider, maybe it is an arm issue as sliders are stressful on pitchers.

Of course even with the less effective sliders, after 3 years hitters may have figured out that Harang is a two trick pony. Perhaps Harang needs to work on improving his curve ball, change up, and maybe even develop another pitch such as a splitter. He is still throwing in the low to mid 90s, and he has command of his fastball, so simply improving his other secondary pitches may be the key to him regaining form. He may also want to consider developing a sinker, he is a tall guy and if he can get on top of his pitches, he should be able to get some nice downward action on his fastball.

Those are a lot of suggestions from a guy who hasn't pitched since 1998, (it was a painful inning too, all the "pitchers were sick" so I was pressed into duty) and I don't know if any single one is the answer. But it would seem if he has lost some bite on his slider, he would be well served to try to add another strong pitch or two to his pitching arsenal. Plus the ability to through a nice change up or sinker will serve him well as he ages and loses velocity.

I would love for Slyde or other Justin to give a more expert opinion on this, I'm not a sabramatician, I'm just a historian with a historiography to write, who is finding every reason in the world not to write it.

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