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.

No Position

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

Matt Shetler

Matt is a life long Pirates fan with both a newspaper and radio background. Before coming to Pirates Breakdown he was most recently the co-owner and lead columnist for Pittsburgh Sporting News. He has been a credentialed writer for all four major sports and also has written for plenty of other sports and fantasy sports websites.
  • JAL 1234

    Hanson had the look of player but it never translated to the field. Wondered many times since April why he was on the team.

  • 20Stoney

    Hansen tries to hit like a big man. He is a guy who needs to hit the ball where it’s pitched and hit ground balls and use his speed. The same approach Harry Walker drilled into Omar Moreno

  • Vince Marchese

    he is only 24 , i have no idea about his fielding skills , but to say he had been given a chance after 54 ABs at the MLB level is a bit premature i would say , he was not given a chance at all is the much more rational statement

  • @BuccoSharkTank

    Hanson was not moved off of SS due to his lack of range. It was his inability to consistently make the routine plays, range was never the issue. His arm strength was optimistically considered passable or average to some scouts, but others deemed it subpar. I watched Hanson play quite a bit at SS and In thought his arm was too weak to stick at SS.

  • Luke Poole

    The good news is Hansen is demoted. I say demoted because no team is going to lay a claim on this guy. The bad news is they are bringing back that “slow” Gosselin. Great. I say lets barely play the slow guy at all and give Moroff consistent at bats and see what happens. Jaso finally has come around a bit so hopefully that will limit Gosselin’s ab’s. Also not like I care one way or another but how in the world is Hanson out of option?. He came up for the first timne last year. He should have plenty of options. What the hell did the incompetent management do, shuffle him back and forth like 4 or 5 times last year without playing him at all? I wouldn’t be surprised I guess.

  • leadoff

    Players like this need to play to develop rhythm, he is never going to get that chance nor are the players that have been called up, I am not saying Hanson would ever develop, but he is pretty much guaranteed failure with this system. Hurdle usually sticks with one or two bench players as go to guys, (Frazier-Jaso) the rest pinch hit, play maybe one day a week, pinch run. Young players have a tough time with this kind of playing time. Players like Meadows will come up when some starter from the outfield is moved and he will be given ample time to produce and will be a starter, because he is a no.1 draft pick. I look for that to happen after the trade deadline.