Morning Report: Not Many Players Do What Alen Hanson Does

It takes a special blend of power and speed to do what Alen Hanson has done this year at the plate and on the bases. He has reached double figures in doubles, triples, homers and stolen bases. The last Pirates players to accomplish that in the minors were Starling Marte and Hanson in 2012. Before that, Alex Presley did it during his breakout season in 2010 and then you have to go back to 2005 and Craig Stansberry for another example. Basically, it’s not something that is easily accomplished.

What if we take the stats a little further. Hanson has stolen 25 bases in each of his two quadruple-double seasons, swiping his 25th bag on Wednesday night. That’s something that only he has done out of the group mentioned above. All of the other three players fell short in steals. So when exactly has it been done last you may ask?  The last time a quadruple-double by a Pirates player had at least 25 stolen bases was back in 1992 by Keith Thomas, a player in his seventh season of pro ball, playing in high-A ball. He played 14 years in the minors and never had more than four triples in any other season. So it was a fluke season for him, partially brought on by being in a level too low for him.

Now that’s not exactly a great comparison player, but that’s 22 years that you have to go back to find another Pirates minor league player that accomplished once what Hanson has done twice already. That just tells you how special his accomplishments are, and exactly what type of special skills he possesses at the plate and on the basepaths. It’s seem like too much of the focus is put on his defense when talking about him and that might be partially due to the fact that he has proven he can hit in the minors already.

When we talked earlier this week about JaCoby Jones being on pace for the first 20/20 in franchise history(minors) since 2007, we usually mention that Jones is playing at a level that is too low for him at his age/experience. Unfortunately, it looks like he might not get a chance to reach 20/20 because he was put on the disabled list yesterday, which almost puts him out until the end of the season. It’s likely that not many people realize that JaCoby Jones is actually seven months older than Alen Hanson because it seems like Hanson has been around for awhile.

That puts what Hanson has done into even better perspective, because he was playing at the same level that Jones is at this year, two years ago, when he first reached the quadruple-double mark. Now he is still younger than Jones, but playing two levels higher. Some people even say that Hanson’s defense has held him back at AA, which could very well be true. I believe he could handle AAA pitching at this point, but there is no need to rush him because he will need time to adjust to second base.

I’ve also suggested that Hanson could be an ideal September roster addition for a team in a playoff hunt. He is a switch-hitter that provides above average speed and has some pop in his bat. He is already on the 40-man roster, so that part isn’t a problem. It also might be good for him to get a taste of the Majors, see what he is playing for and make him work that much harder to get back there. We will likely see Hanson in Pittsburgh mid-season next year, even if the glove isn’t ready, his bat will be too good to keep down.

Pirates Game Graph


Source: FanGraphs

Playoff Push

Pittsburgh: The Pirates are 4.5 games behind St. Louis for the first Wild Card spot. They are 2 games behind San Francisco for the second spot. They are currently six games back from the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Central.

Indianapolis: The Indians are five games back in the International League West, and seven games back in the Wild Card with 12 games left in the season.

Bradenton: The Marauders are in first place in the Florida State League South, tied with Palm Beach. They need to win the second half division to make the playoffs. The Marauders have 12 games left in their season, four against Palm Beach.

Today’s Schedule

Minor League Starter of the Day:  In West Virginia, Buddy Borden will make his 25th start of the season. He leads West Virginia pitchers with 111 strikeouts, which ranks him third in the South Atlantic League. Borden has a 1.95 ERA in his last ten appearances(nine starts) combined. In those games, he has 58 strikeouts in 50.2 innings. Jamestown’s Montana DuRapau has given up one earned run or less in 10 of his 12 appearances. He has walked two batters in his last five starts combined. The DSL Pirates game was suspended after six innings with the score tied at three apiece. They will finish that game today, prior to the regularly scheduled game. The DSL season ends on Saturday.

MLB: Pittsburgh (65-62) @ Milwaukee (71-56) 8:10 PM 8/22
Probable starter:  Jeff Locke (3.73 ERA, 63:19 K/BB, 91.2 IP)

AAA: Indianapolis (66-66) vs Toledo (65-67) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: A.J. Morris (3.13 ERA, 15:8 K/BB, 23 IP)

AA: Altoona (55-75) @ Akron (71-59) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Stolmy Pimentel (NR)

High-A: Bradenton (70-57, 35-23 2nd half) vs Fort Myers (76-52) 6:30 PM
Probable starter:  Chad Kuhl (3.47 ERA, 87:37  K/BB, 137.1 IP)

Low-A: West Virginia (49-77, 29-29 2nd half) vs Lakewood (49-78) 7:05 PM
Probable starter: Buddy Borden (3.03 ERA. 111:48 K/BB, 119 IP)

Short-Season A: Jamestown (29-33) vs Batavia (30-34) 7:05 PM
Probable Starter: Montana DuRapau (2.54 ERA, 38:6 K/BB, 46 IP)

RK: Bristol (18-40) @ Burlington (25-33) 7:00 PM
Probable Starter: TBD

GCL: Pirates (18-35) vs Tigers (29-23) 12:00 PM
Probable Starter: TBD

DSL: Pirates (33-35) vs  Mets2 (27-41) 10:30 AM

Highlights

Video of Alen Hanson hitting his 11th homer.

Mel Rojas Jr homers for Indianapolis. It’s his fifth homer since being promoted to AAA and his tenth homer of the season. Prior to this year, he never hit more than six homers in a season and had a total of 16 in his first four years combined.

Recent Transactions

8/20: Gerrit Cole activated from disabled list. Brent Morel assigned to Indianapolis.

8/20: Jacoby Jones placed on disabled list. Francisco Diaz activated from DL.

8/20: Felipe Gonzalez promoted to Bradenton. Jake Burnette promoted to West Virginia.

8/20: Matt Curry assigned to Altoona. Drew Maggi placed on disabled list.

8/19: Andrew McCutchen activated from disabled list. Michael Martinez sent to Indianapolis.

8/19: Josh Bell placed on disabled list. Ralph Henriquez activated from DL.

8/19: Adam Wilk placed on disabled list.

8/18: Matt Hague claimed off waivers by Toronto Blue Jays

8/18: Clint Barmes assigned to Indianapolis on rehab.

8/18: Pat Ludwig placed on disabled list.

8/17: Charlie Morton placed on disabled list. Brent Morel recalled

8/17: A.J. Morris assigned to Indianapolis.

8/15: Elias Diaz promoted to Indianapolis.

8/15: Stolmy Pimentel placed on 15-day disabled list. John Axford added to roster.

8/14: Clint Barmes assigned to Altoona on rehab.

8/14: A.J. Morris assigned to Altoona.

8/14: John Axford claimed off waivers from Cleveland Indians.

8/14: Matt Hague designated for assignment.

8/14: Pirates sign pitcher Matt Nevarez. Assign him to Altoona.

This Date in Pirates History

Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates players were born on this date, including the right fielder for the 1909 World Series winning club. He holds a Major League record that has stood unsurpassed for 102 years. Owen “Chief” Wilson was a rookie during the 1909 season. A right fielder with a strong bat and a cannon in the outfield. Wilson was good during that first season, but broke out in 1911 when he hit .300 with 107 RBIs. The next year, he hit 36 triples, breaking the mark of 31 that was done twice before. Since that 1912 season, no one has hit more than 26 triples in a season. Current fans of the Pirates, depending on age, will remember four of the other players born on this date. You can read all the bios, as well as a trade recap from the 1987 season and a game recap from 1963, in the link provided here.

  • RichardJarzynka
    August 21, 2014 2:17 pm

    Great article, John. Thanks.

    MLB players with a blend of speed and power, like Hanson, tend to have longer careers than players with just one or the other. Think of Rickey Henderson, Kenny Lofton, Barry Bonds, and Joe Morgan. That could be possible for Marte, McCutchen, and Hanson.

  • That glove comes around to match the bat for hanson and it nullifies any need to extend walker. ( hate to say it cause I like walker)

    • Except that Walker would be a great fit at third or first for a couple of seasons. And that would let Hanson move into second, and Pedro move to….pick an organization.

      • Looks like a viable alternative to me leo, it will be interesting to see how this plays out, don’t ya think?

  • Hanson is still very young and the defense will come, a lot of very good players had defensive problems in the minors. A couple more years in the minors and he will be ready, just about the time Walker is traded.
    I doubt very much that the Pirates will make an infield shuffle to accommodate Pedro. Pedro will be gone before arbitration, they are not going to pay 10-12 mil for 1st basemen and not have any of them as full time 1st basemen. They don’t have the people in the system to fix both problems they have at 3rd base and 1st base, so they will have to make deals, since defense is a huge item with this team and Hurdle said Pedro is done at 3rd base. So in summary they probably can’t keep Russell, they have no 3rd basemen on the horizon and they have 3 1st basemen, none of which is better than a platoon player, so they need a catcher, a real1st basemen and 3rd basemen next year.

    • Leadoff,I agree with almost all you stated there,but my own opinion is that Walker won’t be traded for the very reasons you say ” they will have to make deals “, and all of your comment following that.

      • Walker will cost them too much for what he will give them in comparison to Hanson, money will be the determining factor as to why Walker has 1-2 years left in Pitt, along with Walkers health problems .

        • I think that’s the case too leadoff, like it or not. (Like I said earlier I like walker and would love for him to be a pirate for life, I just don’t see it happening,sad to say.)

        • Don’t compare Walker to Hanson. Compare him to Alvarez, or Davis and Sánchez.

    • I keep thinking of the rangers when I consider landing spots for pedro, they have plenty of corner infield depth and pedro could rejuvinate his career in texas. Alternating between first and dh with prince, or if they fix his yips he could fit nicely a third for them( beltre is great but not getting any younger,or cheaper)would the rangers go for that kind of deal? Who knows, they do seem like a nice fit though and after the season they are having they will need to do something so why not include pedro in that something?

      • I have no idea what team would take Pedro, I would not be surprised if the Pirates don’t just cut him. Think about it, what would you give up to take Pedro off of Huntingtons hands, Pedro has no position any more, he is terrible with RISP, that leaves out a DH spot, he strikes out incredibly often. He would be more of a project for a team, could be a team that has no plans of playoffs in the near future, but even they are not giving up much.

        • So much wrong with this…

        • All valid points, makes me glad I’m not the one who has to make those decisions, like leo said earlier we can speculate all we want and it don’t cost us a dime.lol

        • They are not going to just cut Pedro! That is a ridiculous statement! The guy led the league a HR’s a year ago and just entering his prime years. They may trade him, sure. They will not just cut him!! Oh and someone will give something for a back to back 30 HR guy at 27. Not as much as he would have brought last year but someone would trade for him.

      • The Rangers have Beltre at third. He’s one of, if not the best in MLB. Why would they want Pedro?

  • Thanks for the write-up.. with all the talk about his glove at ss i’ve written him off as a top prospect. . Sounds like that may have been premature

    • I really think that was premature also rick. He has a lot of pop in his bat and a lot more range than Neil Walker. He just needs to adjust to everything that goes on in pro ball.

  • John…I agree with Hanson’s ‘special’ season, but he is still something like 25th or so in OPS in the Eastern League. So that kind of puts a damper on things?

    • Is 25th good or bad for a middle infielder

      • Honestly, I have no idea…..I don’t have the time or inclination to research all of those above him and whether they are OFers or Infielders.

    • Hanson’s 112 wRC+ isn’t anything special overall, but it puts him in good company when you factor in age.

      • Especially when you consider that Lindor’s WRC+ was 108 in the EL.

        • Right in the neighborhood of Odor (117 wRC+) and Nimmo (116 wRC+), as well.

          (P.S. Damn you for making me unwillingly look at Dilson Herrera’s monster year. 😉 )

          • Heh heh,sorry about that. But having seen both Hanson and Herrera play, my money is on Hanson offensively. Herrera didn’t appear to me to have the jump in his bat that Hanson has

          • NMR/Leo….I have seen both and I like Herrera’s chances better.

            Better overall game for Dilson.

      • NMR…I am not high on Lindor’s batting skill, jmo, so that isn’t much of a comparison, to me.

    • Lee, why not take a good look at Francesco Linder ‘s offensive numbers and compare them to Hanson’s ? That might give you a better perspective on Hanson’s offensive capabilities.

    • Okay…it seems you guys are comparing him to other Infielders? I was just comparing him to the whole league.

  • I for one am glad Hanson didn’t get traded. I think this kid will play a bigger part in the Pirates future than most think.

    • No doubt about it Monk !

      • Were you the one that said Walker to first, Hanson to 2nd eventually? If Pedro doesn’t work out there I think this shoud be plan A. If Hanson keeps hitting in AAA you almost have to find a spot for him.

        • Walker to 3rd, JayHay to Super Utility with regular AB, Pedro to 1B for 2015 followed by best of Allie or Bell at 1B in 2016.

        • Yes, I mentioned that some time ago deacs, and I would hope the FO would consider it, or moving Walker to 3d ( as piraddict mentions ) now that Pedro’s throwing has fallen off a cliff.

      • Curious to hear how you’d handle Hanson from here, Leo.

        I can’t see how you can put him on a major league infield right now.

        • Maybe pinch hit or pinch run him in September?

        • deacs is on it NMR. He isn’t ready defensively for a regular 2nd base job yet, but it won’t be too long till he is. He would not be any more of an offensive liability than Martinez or Morel was,and would be more of a threat than Nix. I see piraddict had some suggestions that aren’t as far fetched as you might think either, though I personally feel that Allie has a ways to go to adjust his approach to RH pitching particularly. By the way, I would rather see Walker at first than Pedro. I honestly think Alvarez is about done there in any capacity. Just my own opinion though !

          • Appreciate the response, guys.

            My question was poorly worded, but it was meant more in the long-term view. I can accept a young prospect having a steep learning curve, but I’ve been very disappointed that Hanson has seemingly shown no tangible improvement with the glove.

            Leo, I know you see this kid a lot…would you say he has the arm strength for LF or even CF?

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