Tommy Hanson is in the midst of his first year pitching in the American League. His move from the hitter friendly Turner Field in Atlanta to the pitcher friendly Angel Stadium of Anaheim should help offset some of the losses he experiences from no longer pitching to other pitchers.
Despite the move to the American League, and a lackluster start to the season (1.39 WHIP, 3.91 ERA), I think Tommy Hanson is a great buy-low candidate. If you are in a 10-team league he might still be available on the waiver wire, and in a deeper league he’s a pretty decent trade target as a second or third guy in a deal.
Hanson has had a K% higher than 20% every year of his career, and this year he’s just barely above 14%, so he should get better. And if that Angels offense ever figures things out, he should be able to vulture a few wins even if he pitches poorly (which he’s done already with a spiffy 2-1 record despite not yet making it past the sixth inning).
He’s done a little tinkering with his arm angle this year too, slightly lower arm angle, which might just be small sample size noise, or might be symptom of some larger change (like changing organizations and having a new pitching coach). Or he might just be getting older and compensating for something else. Tough to say exactly what this early in the season, but the arm angle change seems to have resulted in more movement. But again, his K% is down, and guys are hitting more than 91% of the balls he throws in the strike zone, so the movement is not turning him into Cy Young.
Here is something else: for whatever reason, he’s faced more lefties than righties this season, and lefties eat him up. He’s generally been solid against same sided batters, but brutal against lefties. Teams could be deliberately loading up on lefties against Hanson, but not many teams have lineups loaded with successful lefties, so this trend is not likely to continue. If that evens out to something more traditional like 2/3 RHB and 1/3 LHB, you’ll see his numbers improve.
At this point, my friend the Nimi_Badger would say, “You baseball number guys just kill me.”
And he has a little bit of a point. But early in a season like this, I think the numbers give you a good heads up on who may or may not be having an unluky or lucky season. Or maybe they just make you crazy, that happens too.
Looking more at things like BABIP and K%, things that (in the case of BABIP) give you a short term view of luck*, or (in the case of K%) stabilize fairly quickly. And for a starting pitcher to have a 50/50 split between lefties and righties is bizarre. That has to come back to league norms and when that happens, Hanson will look a lot more like the pitcher he was expected to be for the Angels.
*I’m not suggesting that BABIP is all luck, but on such a small scale it at least gives you an idea of something strange going on when the numbers are a long way from establish career norms.
So stats won’t tell me everything, but I’m not skilled enough, nor do I watch enough baseball (but I try) to have my own scouting profiles on all the players out there. So to some degree, I can just pretend to know*
*I just started trying to figure out PitchFX data, and every time I think I know something, then I feel like I have so many more questions than before and get dumber and dumber.
Anyways, here is what I’m trying to say about Tommy Hanson – “I’d roster that.”