July 11, 2012 at 8:08 am by Ben Duronio under Player Analysis
Bill Shanks wrote an article about how the Braves should go after Zack Greinke, and included in the post how the Braves should “no doubt they need to consider making an investment in Hanson sometime soon.”
Consider it, maybe they should, but I would certainly not advocate actually extending him at this point. Tommy Hanson is one of my favorite Braves and has been since his dominance in the minors, but there are just too many signs pointing in the wrong direction to warrant investing in him for the long term.
For one, the noted velocity drop is a concern. Can he be effective without having a 92-93 mph fastball? Absolutely, but not as effective as he would be if he had that type of velocity back. The only real injury Hanson has had was the shoulder injury that he suffered last year, so I am roughly as concerned about his injury history as I would be with any other starting pitcher.
I wouldn’t shy away from extending him just because he was injured and shut down last year. I would shy away from it because his rate stats are going the wrong way and at 25-years-old, that’s a big concern.
His ERA is a fine 3.71, but that’s not the most important factor in the world in these parts. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is the lowest of his career, including his rookie season when he was walking almost 9 percent of batters faced. Last year he struck out 26.3 percent of batters faced, the fifth highest in baseball with a minimum of 130 innings pitched. Now, the rate has dropped to 20.7 percent, putting him on the second page of qualified starters on FanGraphs (30 players per page).
His FIP, xFIP, and SIERA sit at 4.42/4.17/4.05, which signal that his ERA should likely be even higher than its current levels, which is already the worst of his career. I don’t see the need in rushing to sign him when he has three more years of control, even with them being arbitration years. See if this trend breaks and his rate stats come back down to ’10-’11 levels before even considering it, and even then he may not be worth the risk of tagging a multi-year deal on. The ability to non-tender, even though that is unlikely, is a valuable asset since his arbitration price will likely be high due to the performance he had in the first two and a half seasons of his career. Extending him now, or even in the next year, to a contract that extended beyond his arbitration years has much more risk than it does reward, in my opinion.