The Pittsburgh Pirates did everything they could to hold on to Alen Hanson, only to end up whiffing
Wednesday, after another potential win turned into a loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Pittsburgh Pirates made a couple of roster moves, optioning Gift Ngoepe back to Triple-A Indianapolis and placing infielder Alen Hanson on waivers.
While the team may miss Ngoepe’s glove, one thing is for sure and that is they won’t miss Hanson at all.
The only question to ask is why was Hanson in the big leagues to begin with?
While it is true Hanson was out of options, he took up a roster spot for two months and offered very little upside in return. The Pirates are guilty in this case of not carrying the best 25 possible guys on the big-league roster.
By not wanting to risk losing Hanson, a former prospect who had no short term or long-term future on the major league roster, the organization swung and missed badly by wanting to hold onto Hanson at all costs.
So what went wrong for Hanson? How did his stock slip so much in a few years span?
Bat Never Played
Hanson was slashing just .193/.220/.263 with two stolen bases across 57 at-bats with the Pittsburgh Pirates and batted just .205/.239/.261 in a combined 92 plate appearances between the 2016 and 2017 seasons. His .483 OPS this season was about as bad as it could get.
But it wasn’t just his struggles with the big club that led to Wednesday’s decision.
He also struggled mightily in Triple-A as well and never came close to approaching his high marks at Double-A.
Hanson’s never going to have much of a bat at the MLB level and even as a bench player there are better options.
Hanson, who was at one time pegged as the Pirates shortstop of the future, was quickly moved from the position due to his lack of range. After that most of his time came at second base although his defensive metrics aren’t very good.
He even got a look in the outfield in an attempt to make him a super utility type of player, but there really wasn’t room for his in that type of role either. Hanson was passed quickly on the depth chart by the likes of Adam Frazier and others so there really wasn’t much else the team could do with him.
When you aren’t hitting and don’t have a real position to play, there really is no major league future.
Did he get a fair shot?
Some will say that Hanson didn’t get a fair shot, but that isn’t true.
The reality is that he has had plenty of opportunities to impress the past three-plus seasons, but didn’t take advantage of the opportunity. In 1,007 combined plate appearances at the Triple-A level, Hanson only mustered a .704 OPS. Also keep in mind that during his most productive minor league seasons at Double-A, he only had a .748 OPS in 677 plate appearances.
At the end of the day, the bat just wasn’t going to improve. Not every prospect pans out. Hanson, once a consensus Top-100 prospect is just one that didn’t.
He was supposed to be among the first wave of prospects that were to make it to Pittsburgh and be productive. It just didn’t happen.
Hanson won’t be the first and won’t be the last prospect to flame out.
He is likely to remain in the Pittsburgh Pirates system as I can’t see any team claiming him off waivers, but other than a September call up, it is doubtful Hanson makes a return to Pittsburgh any time soon.
The Pirates swung and missed on Hanson once, they likely won’t do so again.
Image Credit – Daniel Decker Photography