While it may be easy to overlook young players from a small market team that’s not contending, the performance of Jesse Hahn does need to be looked at a little deeper.
After Monday’s start, his career with the San Diego Padres is exactly five starts old. So, though it’s a small sample size, let’s start there.
Jesse Hahn, 2014 MLB Stats
Since there’s no other Major League stats to compare them to, how do those numbers compare to what Hahn did in the minors?
Jesse Hahn, MiLB Stats
Not bad. Not bad at all. So before we dig a little deeper, I’ll do the math for you and show how the Major League and Minor League splits look against each other.
Jesse Hahn Split Comparison
As you can see, if he does revert to the Minor League numbers, we can expect some regression. Still, those numbers are very good and fantasy owners would do well to have him on the team if he’s going to put up numbers in that range for the rest of the season.
So, how likely is that?
What Works in Hahn’s Favor?
1. Petco Park
Even with the drawn in fences, San Diego’s park is still one for the pitchers. Every time Hahn takes the ball at home, the home stadium will offer a tremendous advantage.
2. NL West
The Giants offense has gone through some serious regression. The Dodgers offense is good, though it’s been streaky. Arizona has Paul Goldschmidt and maybe Mark Trumbo by the time they square off against San Diego, but little else. The Rockies are still potent, especially at home, but Hahn is scheduled to miss the upcoming series at Coors Field and the Padres only go there once more in 2014.
3. Unknown Factor
Never underestimate this. There is no book on Jesse Hahn. Many hitters do not have any past experiences to draw from against him, so they don’t have a great sense of how things looks from the box.
All rookies have this edge but with Hahn, it’s even a little more exaggerated. Prior to getting the call from the Friars, Hahn had never pitched beyond AA ball. Heck, prior to 38.1 innings he racked up there in 2014, he’d never pitched beyond High A ball.
Outside of maybe some at-bats in Spring Training, there aren’t many hitters currently in the Majors who had any experience against Hahn before he made his MLB debut in June. Until he begins to face teams for a second time, this will be a huge edge for the youngster.
What Works Against Hahn?
On the surface, not much. He’s been a consistently strong pitcher ever since breaking into pro ball with the Rays organization and has continued to be effective since becoming a part of the San Diego organization in 2014. Still, there are a few things that work against Hahn, at least from a fantasy point of view in 2014.
1. Lack of Innings
Matt Schindler detailed this earlier this season. Rookie pitchers do tend to show second half regression. Hahn may be especially vulnerable here because as I’m sure some of you have already figured out, he currently has 187 professional innings to his name, throughout his entire career. That definitely makes late-season regression a serious risk.
2. San Diego Padres
Petco Park works to Hahn’s advantage, but the team that plays there does not — and this is true for a few reasons.
A. They don’t score a lot of runs, or win a lot of games: The NL West may artificially make their record a little better, as only the Dodgers and Giants have winning records, and the Giants aren’t playing like a winning team right now. Still, the Padres haven’t been winning a lot of games and just as worse, don’t score a lot of runs. So, even when the team wins a game, the day’s starting pitcher may not. The 4-1 record is great now, but not likely to persist. Say what you will about the win but as long as it’s a stat in fantasy leagues, you do need to consider it.
B. The Possibility of Being Shut Down: This is a big problem. The lack of innings means that the Padres are probably more likely to be concerned with pushing him deep into September. The fact that they’re not contending means that they can shut him down at pretty much any point without facing much of the kind of backlash that the Nationals faced when they did that with Stephen Strasburg. The fact that like Strasburg, Hahn has also had Tommy John Surgery in his past would go a long way in justifying any caution.
What Should Fantasy Owners Do?
I’m always a proponent of riding a hot streak out, and Hahn’s on a hot streak. At the very least, I’d try to make room for him on your roster in a short term sense.
The biggest fear is the likely lack of wins, but I wouldn’t let that spook you right now. Wins are one of the easier stats to make up late in the year, so I’d wait another month or so before letting that concern get in my way.
I’m not terribly worried that Hahn will inflate your ERA and WHIP. As of right now, I don’t think I’d give him more than one or two bad starts, but that shouldn’t hurt your overall numbers that much at this point of the year.
If nothing else, keep an eye on Jesse Hahn for 2015 and beyond. If you’re in a keeper/dynasty league, his value goes up, because I do think this kid has a bright future.
But again, even if you’re in a redraft league, if you can make room for Hahn, I’d suggest respecting the run he’s on now and adding him to your roster.