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Friday Face-off: Haren vs. Weaver, Battle of the Angels

MLBreports:  The Angels are off to a fairly hot start in 2011, with a current record through Friday of 12-7.  A big reason for the Angels winning record has been the play of its pitchers.  Particularly, Danny Haren and Jered Weaver have been off-the-charts this season as they have steamrolled hitters out of the gate.  I have received many e-mails asking which pitcher has been the best in baseball this season.  That pitcher resides in Anaheim and the million dollar question is:  Haren or Weaver?

Wins:  Weaver is 5-0 in 5 starts, with Haren 4-0 in the same number of games.  Wins is an arbitrary number, but both Haren and Weaver have won all of their starts.  For whatever its worth, Weaver has the extra win.  With both pitchers being perfect, advantage:  tie.

ERA:  Haren has a 1.16 ERA on the season, while Weaver sits at 1.23.  Too close to differentiate. Advantage:  tie.

Innings:  Weaver has pitched 36 2/3 innings in 2011 while Haren has tossed 31 innings.  Over the course of a season, this would translate into approximately 35 more innings pitched by Weaver.  Points for durability.  Advantage:  Weaver.

Strikeouts:  We all know that baseball fans love their flamethrowers and the Angels have some strong ones in this pair.  Weaver currently leads the AL with 39 strikeouts while Haren has 27.  Balls put into play create more opportunities for miscues while strikeouts are seen as the most solid outs.  Advantage:  Weaver.

Walks:  One of my most watched pitching categories, I look for pitchers that limit their walk counts.  Walks to me represents a pitcher beating themselves, rather than the batter having to get a base hit.  A pitcher who throws fewer walks creates a strong opportunity for success in my opinion.  Danny Haren has walked 2 batters all season while Weaver has walked 9.  Both pitchers are impressive in this category, but Haren has been just that much more dominant.  Advantage:  Haren.

Conclusion:  The Angels hurlers are matched up fairly closely.  Weaver is 28 while Haren is 30.  Haren is 6’5″ and Weaver is 6’7″.  They have very similar career ERAs and WHIPs.   Any major league team would love to have either pitcher on their roster.  But the younger and taller Weaver, with added innings and strikeouts in 2011 wins out over the master of control Haren.  In his last 2 seasons, Haren walked under 30 batters per season.  Weaver though led the AL in strikeouts in 2010 with 233.  With 3 All-Star game appearances under his belt, Haren beats out Weaver’s sole appearance last year.  Looking at career numbers, my pick would be to select Haren over Weaver.  I prefer control pitchers and Haren still displays the strikeouts and innings pitched to be a solid ace.  While Haren may in fact beat out Weaver by season’s end, at this point in the season Weaver is the best pitcher….by a hair.  With one solid or blowout start over the next few weeks, the tides can easily change on this one.  Enjoy your dual-aces Angels fans, they will be a pleasure to watch all season long.

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