In a shocking move this week the Atlanta Braves agreed to send their 2012 opening day pitcher, Tommy Hanson to the Los Angeles Angels for middle-reliever, Jordan Walden. This blockbuster trade has huge fantasy baseball ramifications, so lets look at the move more closely.
It is certainly a head-scratcher considering that the Braves already have two-time All-Star (2011 and 2012) closer Craig Kimbrel closing out games, plus 2010 All-Star Johnny Venters as his setup man.
Walden could have potentially won the closer role in LA in 2013, but there is no chance for him to overtake two All-Stars in Atlanta. However, now Walden has officially been designated as a middle-reliever, which all but kills his fantasy value this season. He went from a late-round flyer pick in deep leagues, to a guy who shouldn’t even be drafted in NL only leagues.
Atlanta now has a very inexperienced starting rotation with the loss of their former ace. Their rotation now consists of Tim Hudson, Paul Maholm, Kris Medlen, Mike Minor, and Brandon Beachy after Hanson’s departure. Beachy will return midseason following his elbow injury, but luckily the team also has top-tier prospects Julio Teheran and Randall Delgado waiting in the wings.
Hanson, on the other hand, now joins a much better rotation and team in Los Angeles. The Angels ace is Jared Weaver and the number two-guy is C. J. Wilson, both of which are proven fantasy commodities. Hanson will be a solid third option in the rotation, which may seem like a downgrade from his ace role in Atlanta. However, it will help him in the long run, because it will help him face off against much more average pitchers, as opposed to the ace on the other team.
Overall, Hanson’s 2012 season was a car wreck, and I am not talking about the Spring Training car accident the 26-year-old was in before the season. He finished the year with a disappointing 13-10 record with an ERA of 4.48. He did have a respectable 161 strikeouts in 174.2 innings pitched, but also gave up an alarming 27 longballs.
Additionally Hanson’s fastball has dipped from 92.7 MPH in 2010 all the way down to 89.7 MPH in 2011, which has to be concerning for anyone about to put faith in the pitcher this fantasy season.
However, the Angels have a much better offense in place than the Braves; so Hanson will get much better run support and thus may be able to win more than his 13 games from last year. First baseman Albert Pujols is one of the premier hitters in the game and the maturation of Mike Trout and Mark Trumbo has made this offense one of the best in the majors. This is the perfect offense for a pitcher to pitch in front of, but Hanson must remain healthy to be able to contribute consistently for fantasy owners.
If Hanson can stay healthy and keep the ball in the park, than the righty can easily have a career season. He may not win 20 games or have a 3.00 ERA, but he can easily win 15 games and get his ERA back under 4.00. Draft him as a fifth and sixth starter and hope he outpitches his draft value this spring.