Player Profile 2013: Tommy Hanson
Since I’ve joined the LaAngelsInsider.com crew, I’ve utilized music to relate the information quite a bit. I’ve written three embarrassing song parodies (Pujolsian Rhapsody, Call Me Trouty, Baby) and compared Mark Trumbo to both Rihanna and Ginuwine (TEH LINKS!). So when I was handed the assignment to write a player profile for Tommy Hanson, the first thing that came to mind was this song.
Being the oddball that I so tenderly refer to myself as, I am going to trek the road less traveled on this one. I am not going to take the easy way out. No, this article won’t have anything to do with the 90’s boy band Hanson and their one hit, hardly comprehendible song.
Instead, this article will be about Tommy Hanson and my glorious dating history.
I’ve been lucky enough to date some remarkable women. I say that last sentence without a trace of jest. It is not a task for the faint of heart to date me. I rarely bathe, I incessantly repeat the same distasteful jokes, I refer to my male genitalia as a fictitious police detective and I have five nipples. I’m a quadruple threat of disgusting. Yet, I’m also a master of disguise and hide these character failures for about a year or two into the relationship. And the sad part is that by the time the unlucky souls who decide to date me figure these things out, (little) Dick Tracy and I have already committed to a long term relationship with them. Suckers.
I’m not exactly sure what sparked me to relate Tommy Hanson and my prior flames to one another. Maybe it’s because Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, or maybe it’s because I’ve been single for a loooooooooooooooooooong time. Shocker, I know (it’s the fourth nipple that gets the loneliest, by the way). The point is that I did, and it’s already too late to turn back on this now (my backspace key broke last Wednesday), so I’m going to continue this train wreck of an opener.
The relationship starts off great; I’m being my obviously awesome self and she’s hearing my pitiful jokes for the first time. She’s still under the whole Ryan Gosling façade and I’m still tolerating her telling me stories about her cat(s). It appears to us both as if this, in fact, is paradise. But then, something happens. The joke arsenal comes back around for the fourth time, I take off my Gosling mask, she gets tired of having to hear about Dick Tracy, and she swears the fifth little nipple is staring right into her soul. The fifth one is the angriest one. Finally, she gets slapped in the face with the harsh reality that this is not paradise; it is, in fact, just Fountain Valley.
This is the part when the relationship inevitably ends. She trades me in for a new option that better suits her current needs and I’m left all by myself with all types of question marks about my existence as a human being and contemplating my next move.
What were we talking about?
OH YEAH, Tommy Hanson. The analogy will make sense shortly.
Being drafted 677th overall in the 2005 draft, Tommy Hanson (me) made the Atlanta Braves (my girlfriend) pretty happy. A team cannot expect too much out of a 22nd round pick, making his status as Baseball America’s fourth best prospect in 2008 all the more valuable. When the Braves combined his minor league accolades with his nearly 9 Wins Above Replacement (fWAR) he posted for them from 2009-2011, I’m sure they took a deep breath, spread their arms wide open, looked up to the sky, smiled, and said, “This must be paradise.” Au contraire mon frère, Tommy Hanson’s 2012 season (my fifth nipple) was about to become a major, disgusting problem.
Hanson came into 2012 as a plus-fastball-having-devastating-slider-throwing-top-of-the-rotation-type of young arm. His fastball (my jokes) sat at a very respectable 92 mph with a slider (my devilishly handsome face) measuring upwards of 10 runs better than average (per Fangraphs PITCHf/x Pitch Values). For comparison Hanson’s slider was about three times as effective as Aroldis Chapman’s .
Then the calendar hit 2012 and Hanson’s relationship with the Braves deteriorated. While Hanson’s slider stayed incredibly effective (my face ages well), his fastball, like my jokes (and this analogy), began to flat-line. His velocity dropped nearly three full miles per hour from his career down to 89.6, which made his overall effectiveness dip as well. Compared to career norms, his walk percentage rose, his strikeout percentage dropped, his FIP increased by a full run, and his ERA rose a run and a half. That’s not good. That change in effectiveness is about equivalent to my girlfriend hearing my polar bear joke for the eighth time.***
***What do you call a polar bear with a toothache? A molar bear! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH no***
Even through his (my) struggles last year (forever), there is still some room for positivity. He still threw nearly 175 innings, he showed a fluky spike in HR/FB (compared to career norms), and he still has that devastating slider. Yet, the Braves (my girlfriend) grew tired of him waiting to reach his potential again, and traded him in for a better part that fit their current needs (Jordan Walden).
Now this is where the comparison gets complicated. Hanson has a new home in Anaheim which means that , by this comparison, I will eventually have a new girlfriend **crosses fingers and murmurs “Kate Upton” over and over**. Based on Hanson’s current skillset, his repertoire is deserving of a new start with a new club. With my current skillset, with me yelling “Shut up, Dick Tracy!” far too often, with my moodier than ever extra sliced pickles, with my polar bear joke no more than an arm’s length away, I don’t think I’m in a spot where a new girl is salivating at the chance to stand next to me, literally.
If Hanson is over whatever plagued his arm strength in 2012, he should go back to being the effective pitcher he has been previously. If not, Hanson’s season may be difficult. Jerry DiPoto and the Angels are taking a chance on the former, and they may have a fabulous acquisition. It seems as though Hanson’s outlook for 2013 seems to rely solely on him regaining his fastball velocity. It seems as though my dating outlook for life relies on a stupid ass polar bear joke. I think I’d rather have the joke.