Tommy Hanson 2010 Outlook

January 18, 2010

Hanson has arrived (Suss-Man/Flickr).

The history of stellar young pitchers developed through the Atlanta Braves organization is well documented. The Braves’ newest anointed future ace has already started his career off very strongly and looks to build on this success during his sophomore season.

With Tommy Hanson the Braves are hoping this tall, lanky right hander turns out to be that future ace. Hanson has a plus-fastball with good movement in the mid-90’s, a solid change, and a “knee-buckling” curve that is one of the best in the game today to top things off. He has a very commanding presence on the mound which when coupled with the ability to throw all his pitches for strikes makes him very difficult to hit.

After finally getting the call last June, Hanson went on to dominate in his starts which helped give the Braves a late season surge towards the National League wild card. While the Braves fell short of the playoffs, they got a glimpse into what kind of an arm this young kid has and how well he fits into their future plans.

So what can we expect from Hanson heading into his first full season in the big leagues? Here’s a look at how Bill James, CHONE and I, the Diamond Cutter, project his numbers to look:

Bill James 14-7 3.30 191 206 1.15
CHONE 9-8 3.91 152 158 1.30
Diamond Cutter 16-8 3.15 198 210 1.14

As you can see, I believe Hanson will have a very successful sophomore campaign for the Braves. CHONE doesn’t see Hanson pitch quite as much this year whether that means they see him skipped in the rotation or shut down early. For me I don’t think Atlanta will even have the option to shut him down as he will emerge as their best pitcher and I believe they will be in the wild card hunt through September. He will be that big of an impact in Atlanta.

The biggest deciding factor on Hanson’s success will be how he makes adjustments now that the league has seen him and will have even more exposure as the season goes on. This is such a telling time for a young pitcher as they learn how to adjust to the big leagues.

Luckily for the Braves Hanson is a very smart pitcher.


Drew Stubbs 2010 Outlook

January 17, 2010

Stubbs should win the starting CF job coming out of spring (Barbour/Flickr).

The Cincinnati Reds are one of those teams that you can see beginning to boil. A team that you feel as if you can look down the railroad tracks and see a giant steam engine storming towards you. At least that’s how the rest of the National League Central should be feeling.

Very similar to how we could see the Tampa Bay Rays beginning to form a few short years ago, the Reds too have been quietly assembling an army of incredible young talent. From a dominating starting rotation with Edison Volquez, Johnny Cueto and now Aroldis Chapman to a starting lineup full of great bats like Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and now Drew Stubbs.

Stubbs is the guy the Reds hope can develop into a legitimate lead off hitter to set the table for Brandon Phillips, Votto and Bruce. While Stubbs is not a guy who projects to be a .300 type hitter, he has worked on his plate discipline to the point that he could draw enough walks to keep his OBP high enough to warrant the top of the order spot. Stubbs also has some pretty good gap-to-gap pop that can develop into home run power, especially in the home run friendly Great American Ballpark.

All these things are great but what makes Stubbs so special is his game changing speed. This is why being able to get that OBP high is so critical for this club. Stubbs is a distraction on the base paths and has the 40-50 stolen base potential. This will only go higher the higher he can get that on-base percentage to climb. Stubbs can be a game changer.

So what can we expect from Stubbs heading into his first full season in the big leagues? Here’s a look at how Bill James, CHONE and I, the Diamond Cutter, project his numbers to look:

Bill James .267 76 11 51 51 .726
CHONE .251 62 10 42 26 .708
Diamond Cutter .270 82 14 48 50 .724

All three of us see him as essentially an everyday player. Bill James and I see him as more of an impact player this season than CHONE does in many areas. I believe that if he earns that everyday spot that manager Dusty Baker will allow him to run wild on the base paths. Chances are good he won’t start the season as the lead off hitter for the Reds, but he could very well see that change if he can get off to a hot start. Remember what I said, his OBP is key.

And if it is between Stubbs and Willy Taveras (who had an embarrassing .275 OBP in 2009) to see who will play center and lead off, I don’t see too big of a struggle.

Kyle Blanks 2010 Outlook

January 15, 2010

Blanks is a true masher (SD Dirk/Flickr).

There are a lot of fantastic young players who will get a crack at playing their first full season in the bigs this year that I am very excited about. One of those young guns is a 6-foot-6 masher named Kyle Blanks of the San Diego Padres.

Blanks was drafted all the way in the 42 round of the 2004 draft out of Yavapai Community College in Arizona. The big, lanky right handed slugger is generally thought to be a first baseman but is able to handle himself in the outfield. This is a good thing considering there’s currently a giant road block at first base by the name of Adrian Gonzalez.

The really intriguing thing about Blanks is his proven ability to hit for both average and power – something someone his age and stature generally don’t carry hand-in-hand. He has continually improved his plate discipline which is the key to him reaching his full potential which I see as a Frank Thomas/Jermaine Dye type hitter. That’s a pretty high standard to live up to.

Blanks is one of those guys who I am very excited to see how he progresses this, his first full, season in the big leagues. In only 172 plate appearances last season for the Padres, Blanks put together a solid line of .250/.355/.514 with 10 HR, 22 RBI and .264 ISO. Pretty impressive start.

Now I want to turn our attention to some of the projections out there. The main two I want to look at are the Bill James and CHONE projections (all courtesy of FanGraphs). Alongside them will be my projections for Blanks in the upcoming season:

Bill James .277 25 79 .362 .475 .198
CHONE .265 16 50 .353 .459 .194
Diamond Cutter .275 30 90 .365 .490 .212

As you can see CHONE isn’t projecting Blanks as highly as Bill James and I are. CHONE also has him only having 416 plate appearances too where James and I both see him being essentially an every day player. I really do see Blanks being an annual home run force and competing for the crown on a yearly basis with this year being his coming out party.

I also see Blanks’ batting average and on-base percentage growing in the coming years and giving Padres fans something to cheer about with the impending loss of Mr. Gonzalez in the next couple seasons.

Even big old PetCo can’t hold this monster.