Shhhhh, don’t talk about Matt Harrison. Matt Harrison is why we shouldn’t shove aside prospects who “merely” project as mid-rotation arms. Matt Harrison shows why it is good to have mid-rotation arms. Matt Harrison proves “number three starter” is not a dirty word. Matt Harrison is not an ace. Matt Harrison is probably a number three starter. Matt Harrison is better than a lot of teams’ best pitcher.
Which is to say, Matt Harrison is really good. Matt Harrison’s stats don’t jump off the page – his strikeout rate is low and his walk rate is respectable, though it isn’t so minuscule to blow back the hair of anyone aware of Cliff Lee. His ground ball rate is above average but, like his other metrics, drops neither jaws nor stat nerd boxer shorts.
What Matt Harrison does is prevent runs. Over the last two years, few pitchers did a better job of keeping runs off the board. He ranks sixth among starters in WPA since the beginning of the 2011 season – he gets outs, in other words. He will continue to prevent runs for the Texas Rangers for the next five years as he agreed to a five-year contract extension worth $55 million dollars. The Rangers announced the agreement includes an option for 2018.