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OnBaseMachine
03-27-2007, 11:33 AM
Ready to take it to the next level
Harden, Drew top breakout candidates for 2007 season
By Tom Singer / MLB.com

Baseball's 2006 was The Year of Rising Surreptitiously. The season's individual giants all emerged from behind a curtain of relative anonymity, reaching the highest ceilings from a ground-floor start.

The honor roll reminded us anew that the beautiful game's long season is a wonderful kingmaker, an even playing field on which those with a checkered past, or no history at all, can rise above the crowd to go shoulder-to-shoulder with the elite.

It was a season that certainly reaffirmed baseball's reputation as a democratic game. If you play it well and hard, the spotlight finds you.

Joe Mauer began the season with 166 games of Major League experience and won an American League batting title. His Minnesota teammate, Justin Morneau, reigned as the MVP after nearly matching the cumulative power numbers of his first three seasons.

Freddy Sanchez came off the end of the Pirates' bench to wear the NL batting crown. Brandon Webb started the season with a career record of 31-37 and took home the NL Cy Young Award.

One never knows where the lightning of greatness will strike.

Who are the candidates for similar breakouts in 2007? We glimpse five who fit the mold, having covertly but assuredly honed their game to toe the threshold of stardom.

The ground rules are simple: They must be established Major Leaguers, not rookies -- they have their own thresholds and ceilings.

5. Casey Kotchman, Angels: The high expectations have long faded, but the 24-year-old first baseman is set to make his mark six years after being a No. 1 draft pick (13th overall). He has regained his strength after a season-long battle with mononucleosis, and a solid spring attests that his fluid left-handed swing is intact. This is a guy who compiled a cumulative .342 Minor League average prior to his first callup in 2004 -- and he is poised to return to that level for the offense-hungry Angels.

4. Aaron Harang, Reds: The 28-year-old righty has had more trouble with recognition than with results. He led the NL in strikeouts last year while tying for the league lead with 16 wins, yet was ignored in the vote for the Cy Young Award. After dramatically lowering his ERA in each of the past three seasons, Harang is ready to become an every-fifth-day sensation everyone will notice. Maybe enough to turn him into Cincinnati's very first Cy Young pitcher.

3. Erik Bedard, Orioles: He "got it" a lot earlier than do many late-blooming left-handers, setting him up for a breakthrough into his prime. Bedard, who turned 28 earlier this month, was consistently lights-out during another dark season in Baltimore. He went 15-11 for a team that was 26 games under .500 with anyone else starting, and his ERA was 1.49 runs lower than the overall staff's. An amazing 10 of his wins followed Orioles losses. And Bedard went 10-5 after mid-June. He's on the catapult to stardom.

2. J.D. Drew, Red Sox: He is hardly a stranger, but this nine-year veteran is more associated with off-field news than with on-field performance. He's the guy who wouldn't sign with the Phillies and, more recently, the guy who walked out on the Dodgers. But for all the notoriety, Drew has collected more than 27 homers only once and had never driven in more than 93 runs until last season. He is in the perfect town and in the perfect lineup to break through infamy to the other side of that coin: Fame.

1. Rich Harden, Athletics: Both his time, and his turn, have come. The 25-year-old right-hander with the frightening stuff has been taking the dry air out of the Cactus League, striking out 25 of the 53 batters he has faced. Harden has been healthy for only 28 starts the last two seasons, meaning he has lots of saved bullets. This is where the A's get their payoff for not rushing him back from a strained elbow ligament during last summer's division race. A worthy successor to the line of Oakland aces.

http://cincinnati.reds.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20070327&content_id=1861270&vkey=spt2007news&fext=.jsp

Grounds_Crew
03-27-2007, 11:36 AM
NOW...that's what I'm talkin' bout!

BRM
03-27-2007, 11:36 AM
Haven't some projection systems predicted a slight regression for Aaron this year? It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

guttle11
03-27-2007, 11:46 AM
How many years in a row can a guy "breakout"?

He broke out last year. If he does well, this will be his "Finally people realize I can pitch pretty well, and have been doing so for a while" year.

redsmetz
03-27-2007, 11:47 AM
Haven't some projection systems predicted a slight regression for Aaron this year? It will be interesting to see how it plays out.

I think this is where I struggle with projection systems. I understand the mechanics of the numbers, but I think it doesn't factor the genuine human element into its calculations (IMO, that I know of). I think Harrang is on the cusp of being something special.

TeamSelig
03-27-2007, 12:17 PM
Break out year huh? You can't get much better than what he did last season.

Highlifeman21
03-27-2007, 12:20 PM
2006 was Harang's breakout year.

Let's hope he can sniff similar numbers for 2007, or this team is in trouble with a capital T.

KronoRed
03-27-2007, 12:44 PM
I guess to them breakout means we trade him to New York or Boston ;)

TeamBoone
03-27-2007, 09:01 PM
How many years in a row can a guy "breakout"?

He broke out last year. If he does well, this will be his "Finally people realize I can pitch pretty well, and have been doing so for a while" year.

Thank you. Your post is the essence of what I was going to say.

He's pitched just fine the last TWO seasons. If he does as well this year, it hardly a breakout!

Eric_Davis
03-28-2007, 10:59 PM
When you lead the league in wins and strikeouts, what exactly are you breaking out from?

dougdirt
03-28-2007, 11:09 PM
When you lead the league in wins and strikeouts, what exactly are you breaking out from?

Forgetting to use Stridex?

Red Leader
03-28-2007, 11:38 PM
I guess to them breakout means we trade him to New York or Boston ;)

Yeah, and with his new contract, I don't think that's going to happen anytime soon.

I just hope Harang can stay healthy and make all of his starts. If that and only that happens, I'm fine with what he'll give us. He's proven the last two years he can pitch.

Cyclone792
03-29-2007, 01:02 AM
If Harang's healthy, I've got him pinned as a pretty good candidate to have a monster year. Perhaps even a Cy Young caliber year if the Reds are actually able to contend long enough to garner him some notice from the national press.

Harang's strikeout rates exploded last season, and I'm leaning more toward the camp of that being a reality throughout his peak seasons rather than a one year fluke. His stuff is outstanding, and his control has become impeccable. Even last season, it was apparent that his stuff had become even more refined and polished compared to his stellar 2005 season. One of his biggest problems in the past has sometimes been high pitch innings due to some nibbling, but I think he's got the stuff and control to nip that in the tail.

Harang's career BABIP is high at .316, and last season it was at .325, but that's quite possiblity an indicator of the poor team defense we've seen in recent seasons. The team's defense should be considerably better in 2007 with Gonzalez at shortstop and Griffey out of center field so it's quite possible for Harang's BABIP to see some drops.

If Harang's 2007 peripherals match his 2006 peripherals - and I don't think that's a bad bet - he could mix in a sub .300 BABIP thanks to the team's defensive improvements. That end result could very well be a sparkling ERA for 2007.

WVRedsFan
03-29-2007, 01:50 AM
All these accolades and I'm just a tad worried. He's pitched rather poorly this spring. I hope it's just him "working on something", but I don't know.

Today he pitched 5 innings and gave up 10 hits and 3 runs. Five days ago, he pitched 6 innings and allowed 8 hits and 6 earned runs. Five days earlier, he pitched 5 innings and gave up 8 hits and 4 runs, 3 earned. That means in his last 3 outings, he's itched 16 innings, allowing 26 hits, 13 runs (12 earned) for an ERA of 7.31! He's allowed 4 HR's in that period. He's seems to be very hittable, which is really surprising.

I don't like to be like this, but I smell trouble. Those are not ace or No. 2 numbers. I see a disaster coming and we just might be able to blame it on over work. I won't bring up the reason for that, but you all know who's the blame for that. Allowing that many hits and HR's (not to mention runs) this early is not good, no matter how far ahead hitters are at this point of the season.

dougdirt
03-29-2007, 02:21 AM
All these accolades and I'm just a tad worried. He's pitched rather poorly this spring. I hope it's just him "working on something", but I don't know.

Today he pitched 5 innings and gave up 10 hits and 3 runs. Five days ago, he pitched 6 innings and allowed 8 hits and 6 earned runs. Five days earlier, he pitched 5 innings and gave up 8 hits and 4 runs, 3 earned. That means in his last 3 outings, he's itched 16 innings, allowing 26 hits, 13 runs (12 earned) for an ERA of 7.31! He's allowed 4 HR's in that period. He's seems to be very hittable, which is really surprising.

I don't like to be like this, but I smell trouble. Those are not ace or No. 2 numbers. I see a disaster coming and we just might be able to blame it on over work. I won't bring up the reason for that, but you all know who's the blame for that. Allowing that many hits and HR's (not to mention runs) this early is not good, no matter how far ahead hitters are at this point of the season.

Here is all I am worried about as far as Harang and ST stats go
25.2 innings
22 strikeouts
2 walks.

Harang has a Dips ERA of 3.59 in spring training, but a real ERA of 6.66. Thats awfully large of a difference. Small sample, bad luck.

If he gets through April and has an ERA above 5 and is allowing 11 or 12 hits per 9, I will get worried. Until then, his spring has been nothing worth worrying about in my mind.

Lets all remember that last year Arroyo sported a 6.10 ERA in spring training.... then cut nearly 3 runs off of that in the regular season. Spring numbers mean about as much for proven guys as a parachute does to a guy who doesn't fly.

WVRedsFan
03-29-2007, 02:59 AM
Here is all I am worried about as far as Harang and ST stats go
25.2 innings
22 strikeouts
2 walks.

Harang has a Dips ERA of 3.59 in spring training, but a real ERA of 6.66. Thats awfully large of a difference. Small sample, bad luck.

If he gets through April and has an ERA above 5 and is allowing 11 or 12 hits per 9, I will get worried. Until then, his spring has been nothing worth worrying about in my mind.

Lets all remember that last year Arroyo sported a 6.10 ERA in spring training.... then cut nearly 3 runs off of that in the regular season. Spring numbers mean about as much for proven guys as a parachute does to a guy who doesn't fly.

Last time I looked (and I admit I haven't looked much in the last few years), allowing lots of hits and runs means a whole lot more than the number of strikeouts or walks. Runs wins games and lose games. Truth is, Harang is allowing lots of hits and runs. Those strikeouts and fewer walks mean absolutely no more than a warm pitcher of spit when they start counting wins and losses. I'm still worried and will be until I see the Harang who is not allowing 7 runs per 9. Confident that he will do well? No. Worried? Yes.

To each his own.

CTA513
03-29-2007, 03:25 AM
Once the season starts Harang will use his offspeed pitches more than he has been doing this spring.


C. Trent Rosecrans talking to Harang after the Devil Rays game:


Talked to Harang after the game. He said the Devil Rays were really
aggressive and slapping at the first pitch they saw. That's why he had
a tough second inning. In the third, he said he threw nothing but curveballs
and sliders, and the Devils Rays went 1-2-3. Also, Narron said he's never
seen an umpire call balls and strikes from behind the pitcher's mound.
Said he thought maybe the view was better back there.

registerthis
03-29-2007, 09:14 AM
When you lead the league in wins and strikeouts, what exactly are you breaking out from?

A small market team.