Alen Hanson Showing the Usual Trends in 2015

For Alen Hanson, April showers bring May flowers.

As a typical slow starter out of Spring Training, Hanson takes about a month to get hot, and then it is lift off. He had a .654 OPS in April 2013 in Bradenton, before posting an .827 OPS during the rest of his time at the level. In 2014 he had a .607 OPS in April in Altoona, before posting an .804 OPS the rest of the season. So far, it has been the same story in 2015.

After a .549 OPS in April with Indianapolis this season, Hanson has started to heat up with a .797 OPS in six games in May. In his first 11 games, through April 21, Hanson had only seven hits. Since then, he has had only four games that he has been held hitless in 15 contests. Over the span, he has five multi-hit games, with a pair of two-hit games, a pair of three-hit games, and a four-hit game.

Indianapolis manager Dean Treanor loves what he is seeing from Hanson at the dish over the past month.

“He has taken over some games,” Treanor said. “We like to see that offensively from him. Hopefully he carries that over and keeps that going.”

The switch hitting Hanson has also been stronger at the plate from the left side so far. He is hitting .289 from that side of the plate, against 8-for-35 as a right-handed hitter.

Hanson also shows the speed dynamic, with nine stolen bases so far. Hitting at the top of the order seems to fit him, but he has not developed some of those skills just yet.

Hanson has struck out 22 times so far, with only seven walks in 102 at bats. He also has not shown the ability to utilize his speed with the bunt yet, as that portion of his game is still a work in progress.

There were also questions with how hard that Hanson works, as he had a couple of suspensions and benchings at Double-A last season. So far, with Indianapolis, there have only been a couple of questions. On one play, he committed an error and was questioned about how hard he went after the ball. He did not play the following day, but it is unclear if he was benched.

The second was becoming the first violator of the pitch clock, for taking too long to get into the box. Overall, he has been a model citizen though.

Along with his work at the plate, Hanson is also transitioning to a new position. While he started the move to second base last season, learning the ins and outs of the position has carried over to 2015 at the Triple-A level. While he still has some hiccups, so far, Treanor is pleased with what he sees.

“[The transition to second base] is going well,” Indianapolis manager Dean Treanor said. “We are usually out here every day getting work in. If you watch him, he’ll still take some ground balls at short, which is fine. But the transition is good.”

Treanor said that there are still some aspects for Hanson to learn at second and “react to a little quicker,” but he is still pleased with the progress thus far.

At times, Hanson will take more time on plays than he should at second, which makes plays closer than they should be. There is no questioning his range at the position, as he flashes those shortstop skills, but there are times that his arm is lacking as well. His three errors in 24 defensive games this season has been an improvement at the position.

Over the long-term, second base clearly looks like a better fit. Plus, with Neil Walker still at the position at the next level, Hanson has time to polish his craft before his arrival in Pittsburgh.

While he is on the 40 man roster, I would expect Hanson to make his debut as a September call up. If nothing else, he brings the speed aspect to the table. This is if the extra activities stay to a minimum.

  • Ryan: Not the usual trends in 2015 because his past always included a lot of defensive lapses in April. Instead, in 2015 he is fielding at a .975 clip with only 3 E’s so far at AAA. The position change to 2B has helped him, and there is no doubt that the bat is his best weapon – .280, 21 doubles/12 triples/11 HR’s/58 RBI’s from the leadoff spot at AA is proof-positive he will be a strong contributor for the Pirates. Still only in his age 22 season.

    If things happen like I think they will, he will be in Pittsburgh possibly right after the trading deadline. I doubt the Pirates will wait until Pedro’s last year (2016) before FA to make a move, and I have always felt that Neil Walker could be a very strong 1B. The Pirates need a leadoff hitter badly, and Hanson, Polanco would be a nice way to start the lineup.

    • Notwithstanding Harrison’s pathetically slow start, is Hanson really a better second baseman than Josh? If Alvarez is moved, which would not be surprising if the Pirates are out of contention, but would be shocking if they are still in contention, it’s not clear to me that Hanson is seasoned enough to be promoted. I’d rather see him spend a full season and a half at AAA.

      • piraddict: Harrison had a great year at 3B in 2014 defensively and it makes no sense to now move him to 2B and move another person to 3B. WE NEED A LEADOFF HITTER. Harrison is not a leadoff hitter and neither is Kang. Hanson has done very well at leadoff for at least the last 3 years offensively and plays 2B well since the switch. So why not take advantage of what we already have?

        • Keeping Harrison at 3B in order to put Hanson at 2B keeps Kang on the bench. I agree with you that Hanson has the potential to be a great leadoff hitter in the future. But Kang’s bat is likely to be better and more reliable this season than Hanson’s. Right now (with due nods to small sample size) Kang has the leading OBP on the Pirates except for SeanRod. How about this lineup against RHP:

          SS Kang
          RF Polanco
          CF Cutch
          2B Walker
          LF Marte
          1B Alvarez
          3B JHay
          C Cervelli
          Against LHP:
          3B Kang
          1B SeanRod
          CF Cutch
          LF Marte
          RF JHay
          2B Walker
          SS Mercer
          C Cervelli

  • I have heard the questions in regard to his work ethic before… this is concerning. Do his teammates seem to respect and like him?

  • Do Latin players in general have trouble in April because of the relative cold, which to them is very unusual?

    • I don’t know if that’s the case with Hanson. He struggled in Bradenton, where it is not cold in April. And he did well in West Virginia in 2012, where it is colder in April.

      • Good counter example. But as a whole career his Aprils in the north are 3: 1, bad to good.