Hanson looked very promising after posting a +2.6 fWAR in 127.2 innings pitched his rookie season and following it up with a +4.4 fWAR season in 202.2 innings the very next season. But injuries and fading velocity have lead to declining seasons since his sophomore year in Atlanta. Take a look at his numbers each year since 2010:
Clearly you can see that Hanson has faded rapidly since his solid sophomore season in 2010 and has lost 3 mph off of his fastball. It’s also worth noting that his walk rates increased each year since 2010 from 6.6% to 9.3%. The loss in velocity has made the pitch almost batting practice-esque as it went from a plus pitch at +13.1 runs in 2010 to an abysmal -21.9 runs last season.
His fastball was not the only pitch to post negative run totals as his curveball was worth -6.0 runs and his change-up was -1.4 runs.
Some of these problems can be attributed to Hanson’s inability to stay healthy. In October of 2010 he had a contusion on his eye from batting practice followed by back stiffness in March of 2011. He was then placed on the disabled list for the first time in June of 2011 with tendinitis in his right shoulder and was placed on the disabled list again in August for the same issue. During camp this past February he was in a car accident and suffered a concussion then landed on the disabled list with back problems in July.
The shoulder and back problems have been ongoing and would definitely explain the loss in velocity, resulting in Hanson throwing batting practice to opposing hitters in 2012.
The Angels gave up Jordan Walden, a power-armed reliever with a mid-to-high 90s fastball and above-average slider combo but, ironically, has fared better against left-handed batters than right-handed batters with a .273 wOBA against LHB and .310 wOBA against RHB. Walden is also the proud owner of a 28.2% strikeout rate, the 20th highest mark since 2010 (minimum 110 innings pitched).
It’s good to know that Walden can get both right and left-handed hitters out and if he can get his walks in check the Braves have a high-leverage reliever with four years of control on their hands. The back of their pen looks devastating with Walden, Craig Kimbrel, and Jonny Venters.
I understand the deal from both team’s perspectives. The Braves save close to $4M this year while adding to the best bullpen in the game. But if the Angels want to come out on top of this deal they’d better hope that Hanson’s lingering injuries are in the past and that his velocity can come back soon or else they will be regretting this deal and wishing they shopped Walden for a better arm.