Injuries have always been his problem and 2011 was no different for A’s right-hander Rich Harden. Harden returned to the A’s this year after spending time in Chicago with the Cubs and in Texas with the Rangers.
The A’s invested $1.5 million in Harden this year, and what they received in return was hardly a solid profit. This season, like most A’s players, was filled with so-so results for Harden.
While he showed flashes of dominance, those “stellar” performances were hard to come by this year.
He made 15 starts after coming off the disabled-list in July, but went just 4-4 with a 5.12 ERA. He logged in 82.2 innings of work this year and recorded 91 strikeouts.
Probably the brightest thing about Harden’s 2011 season were his strikeouts.
Last year with the Rangers, Harden’s K/9 rate dropped from 10.92 in 2009 to 7.34. This year, however, Harden saw an increase in his K/9 rate and finished the year with a 9.91 K/9 rate. The A’s also saw Harden’s BB/9 rate drop as well this year. He posted an atrocious 6.07 BB/9 last year, but dropped that number to 3.38 this year.
Aside from being a good source of strikeouts, Harden didn’t offer the A’s very much this year. Harden didn’t eat a ton of innings this year for Oakland’s injury-ridden rotation, and he was pretty hittable this year as well. Opposing teams hit a cool .267/.331/.488 against Harden this year, which isn’t particularly good.
Overall, Harden’s 2011 season was one filled with mediocrity. The A’s added Harden, a familiar face, in the hopes that he’d prove to be a valuable addition to the starting rotation. Early injuries postponed his return to Oakland until July, but when he did return, he hardly looked like the Harden of old.
Considering he made only $1.5 million this year, Harden wasn’t a big risk for Oakland.
Entering the offseason,however, Harden, like the other free agents leaving Oakland, isn’t expected to be back. He won’t cost much for any team that decides to sign him. The A’s could bring him back for a similar deal he had this year, but I’m not sure the A’s will elect to do that.
Then again, as the A’s argued last offseason, you can never have too much starting pitching.
What do you think? Should the A’s bring Harden back for another year as insurance for a seemingly fragile rotation? Sound off below!