Reds' Harang flies under the radar
By Phil Rogers / McClatchy Newspapers
Quick now. Who led the National League in complete games last year?
We'll give you a hint. He was the same guy who led the NL in strikeouts. He had six complete games out of 35 starts during a season in which he went 16-11 with a 3.76 earned-run average.
Want another hint? This guy, who struck out 216 in 234 1/3 innings, pitches for Cincinnati. This would be a giveaway except that the guy we're talking about isn't the Reds' pitcher who got the most attention during last season -- and might not be the one who gets the most next season.
He didn't get one Cy Young Award vote and didn't even win the Johnny Vander Meer Award, which the Cincinnati chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America gives to the Reds' "most outstanding" pitcher.
The guy who led the NL in strikeouts and complete games, tying for the league lead in victories, was Aaron Harang, not the guy acquired from the Boston Red Sox during spring training, Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo got off to a fast start but wound up 14-11, going 11 consecutive starts in one stretch without a victory.
It doesn't sound like Harang is upset about the lack of recognition.
"Maybe I should grow my hair long and play the guitar," he said.
Harang, a 28-year-old right-hander who was drafted by Texas and passed through Oakland before coming to the Reds in a 2003 trade for Jose Guillen, might be a little mystified with Cincinnati's management, however. When general manager Wayne Krivsky set the club's arbitration figures, he somehow offered Harang the same $4.2 million that Kyle Lohse had signed for a day before the figures were exchanged.
Lohse, whom Minnesota discarded last season, is a candidate for the fourth starter's job, not the Opening Day start, after going 3-5 with a 4.50 ERA in 11 starts with the Reds. But like Arroyo, he has had a higher profile career to this point than the unsung Harang, who quietly goes about his business in an admirable way.
With the start of spring training around the corner, here are a few players worth watching closer: