Stats & Info: Ryan Hanigan

Tuesday's priority: Upgrade bullpen, 'd'

December, 3, 2013
It was a very, very busy Tuesday in baseball and the priorities for the teams involved in making moves revolved around two areas- relief pitching and defense.

The Tigers made the biggest transaction of the day so far, signing free agent closer Joe Nathan to a two-year contract.

Nathan is the active leader in saves with 341, tied with Hall-of-Famer Rollie Fingers for 10th most all-time. Nathan comes off a season in which he had a 1.39 ERA and 43 saves. His four seasons with 43 or more saves rank tied for third-most all-time.

The upgrade in putting Nathan as closer ahead of Joaquin Benoit is tied to the history of each with regards to giving up home runs.

Benoit has allowed a homer every 30 at-bats over the last three seasons. Nathan has allowed one every 39 at-bats.

Athletics continue remake with Gregerson
The Athletics traded Seth Smith to the Padres for middle-relief specialist Luke Gregerson.

Gregerson brings durability, having made 70 or more appearances in four of the last five seasons. His 132 holds in that span are by far the most in the majors.

Gregerson succeeds despite not throwing that hard. His average fastball is 89 mph. He’s thrown nearly 1,800 sliders over the last three seasons. The only reliever to throw more is Carlos Marmol.

Gregerson will pair with Jim Johnson to form a new back end of the Athletics bullpen.

Bell will toll for Rays
Heath Bell will join his fourth team in as many seasons, as he’s headed to the Tampa Bay Rays in a three-team trade.

After three straight 40-save seasons, Bell has sputtered the last two years with the Marlins and Diamondbacks.

Bell did have 72 strikeouts and 16 walks last season, a ratio comparable to what the Rays got from their closer, Fernando Rodney, in 2012.

But the focus for the Rays will be on keeping Bell’s homer total down. He yielded 12 in 65 2/3 innings, or two more than he allowed in nearly 200 innings of work from 2010 to 2012.

Gentry goes to the Athletics
The Athletics obtained Craig Gentry from the Texas Rangers and could plug him into their outfield in a number of ways.

His best spot from a defensive perspective is centerfield. Gentry ranks 29th in innings at that position over the last three seasons, but rates tied for third with 32 Defensive Runs Saved in that same span.

Gentry doesn’t hit for power but does have a .365 on-base percentage over the last three seasons.

He also can net extra bases after reaching, as he’s 55 for 65 in stolen base tries over the last three seasons (an 85 percent success rate that rates 11th-best among those with 40 or more steals).

Hanigan to the Rays
A bunch of catchers changed teams, with A.J. Pierzynski signing with the Red Sox and Jarrod Saltalamacchia subsequently heading to the Marlins.

Those were offensive-minded moves in each case (as noted in the chart at right), but the Rays snuck in and made a prominent move for their defense.

The trade with the Reds for Ryan Hanigan gives the Rays a second catcher highly regarded for his pitch-framing (as noted in this Grantland piece) and throwing arm.

Opponents have 52 steals against Hanigan and have been caught 38 times by him (they were also caught nine times by pitchers) over the last two seasons. The 58 percent steal success rate was the second-lowest against a catcher, behind only the 56 percent success rate against Yadier Molina.

Hanigan hit only .198 last season, but he walked more than he struck out for the fifth time in the five seasons in which he’s had at least 200 plate appearances. He had an on-base percentage of .350 or better in each season from 2009 to 2012.

Anderson looks to break down Tigers

October, 9, 2012
Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty ImagesBrett Anderson will try to keep the Athletics season alive on Tuesday.
The Bay Area teams are hanging by a thread, each down two-games-to-none heading into Tuesday’s games against the Detroit Tigers and Cincinnati Reds.

Brett Anderson and Ryan Vogelsong will be charged with the responsibility of keeping their teams alive.

Anderson is a bit of a question mark after returning from a strained oblique.

Vogelsong is one as well because of the struggles he went through late in the season.

Let’s take a closer look at a key for each pitcher heading into Tuesday’s matchups.

Anderson’s key: Breaking balls
One of the reasons that Brett Anderson pitched so well after his return was that his breaking ball was at the form that made him successful in previous seasons.

In his first four starts, Anderson got 38 outs with his breaking ball and allowed only seven baserunners with the pitch. He’s throwing it 44 percent of the time, so the Tigers figure to see it a lot.

In 2010, when Anderson had a 2.80 ERA in 19 starts, his rate of outs to baserunners with the breaking ball was about 4.2-to-1.

Anderson had a few issues with his breaking ball against the Angels on September 13, allowing five hits, including two doubles, with it. The Tigers got a pair of hits against it in his most recent start on September 18, though both were bunts.

What the Tigers didn’t see was Anderson’s putaway pitch -- his 82 to 84 mile-per-hour offering that most resembles a slider.

When that pitch has a break on it that drops knee-high to Anderson’s glove side, it’s almost impossible to hit.

Anderson has thrown such a pitch in the 82-to-84 mph range to his glove side 72 times in six games. He’s gotten 20 outs (including 14 strikeouts) and allowed just three baserunners with it.

Vogelsong’s key: His fellow Ryans
Ryan Vogelsong pitched well in his last three starts of the regular season, but he’ll be pitching in a tough spot -- with his team facing elimination in a big-time hitter’s ballpark.

Two of the players who were big factors in Game 2 were also named Ryan -- Reds outfielder Ryan Ludwick and catcher Ryan Hanigan.

Ludwick is 2-for-6 with a home run and a pair of walks in this series. He homered in Game 2 against Madison Bumgarner, a pitcher against whom he was 1-for-16 in his career.

Ludwick is 4-for-5 with a walk against Vogelsong, with a hit against Vogelsong’s fastball, changeup, curveball and cutter.

The Giants have pitched Ludwick almost exclusively to the outer half of the plate (and off the outside corner) in this series and you can expect that to continue.

Ludwick hit .333 and missed on 18 percent of his swings against inner-half pitches from right-handers this season. He hit .246 and missed on 33 percent of his swings on the outer-half (or further away).

Hanigan, who had three RBI in the Game 2 win, can also expect a lot of outer-half pitches.

His split is .289 with a miss rate of only seven percent against inner-half pitches and .225 with a 15 percent miss rate against outer-half pitches.

Hanigan has been able to find holes on ground balls this postseason. He’s 3-for-4 when hitting a grounder after closing the season by making outs on 15 of the last 16 grounders he hit.

Vogelsong does have one stat going for him in his quest to get both of these hitters out. A key to his return to form is that he’s held right-handed hitters to two hits (and no walks) in their last 26 at-bats against him.

Arroyo throws gem by thriving outside

October, 8, 2012

The Cincinnati Reds pounded the San Francisco Giants, and recorded their first postseason shutout since Game 1 of the 1990 World Series when they won 7-0 against the Oakland Athletics.

The Reds nine runs were the second-most in a postseason road game, and most since scoring 10 in Game 8 of the 1919 World Series.

That was the clinching game in a best-of-9 series best known for the "Black Sox Scandal" where eight Chicago White Sox were banned from baseball for allegedly throwing the World Series.

On Sunday, the Reds offense was led by Ryan Hanigan and his three RBI, which are tied for the second-most by a Reds catcher in a postseason game since Benito Santiago had three in the 1995 NLDS.

However the real story of the game was Bronson Arroyo.

Arroyo became the first Reds pitcher to throw at least seven scoreless innings allowing one hit or fewer in a postseason game.

How did Arroyo beat the Giants?

He threw 57 of 91 pitches (62.6 percent) on the outer third of the plate or further away. Giants hitters were 0-for-15 in at-bats ending with a pitch in that location.

Giants hitters were also 0-for-8 in at-bats ending with an offspeed pitch, including all four of Arroyo’s strikeouts.

Arroyo was also dominate with two strikes as Giants hitters were 0-for-11 in two-strike at-bats.

It was a rough day for the Giants who were shut out at home in a postseason game for second time since moving to San Francisco in 1958.

This was their largest shutout loss in postseason history.

The nine-run defeat was the Giants worst in a postseason game since losing 13-1 in Game 5 of the 1951 World Series.

Game 3 is Tuesday in Cincinnati where the Reds were tied for the best home record in the National League during the regular season.
Today’s Trivia: The Boston Red Sox last started 0-5 in 1996. Which starting pitcher got the win to break that losing streak?

Quick Hits: Let’s dive into the two remaining undefeated teams.

Texas Rangers – 6-0 - Best start since 1996 (7-0)
• Timely hitting has been key. The Rangers are batting .320 with RISP and just .235 otherwise.
• Of their 30 hits with no one on base, 10 have been home runs.
• The Rangers lead the majors with 32 extra-base hits, while their 23 singles are tied for the fourth fewest.
• In the first three innings, Texas is hitting .217 (though six of 15 hits are home runs). From the fourth inning on, the Rangers are hitting .320.
• In three-ball counts, opponents are batting .114 with a .373 OBP. Last season, they hit .248 with a .573 OBP.
• The 1-2 hitters in opposing batting orders are a combined 8-fo-47 (.170).
• Over the past two seasons, Rangers starting pitchers have a 2.21 ERA before April 15.

Cincinnati Reds – 5-0 – Best start since 1990 (9-0)
• The Reds’ bullpen has a 1.29 ERA and has held opposing hitters to a .189 BA.
• Eight of the 17 runs allowed this season have come in the first inning, and the Reds have trailed going into the second inning in three of five games. After the first, Reds pitchers have a 2.03 ERA.
• The top three hitters in the order – Drew Stubbs, Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto – are hitting a combined .406.
• Catchers Ryan Hanigan and Ramon Hernandez have combined for a .476 BA and 1.405 OPS.
• The Reds lead the league with a.339 BA. Take out the pitchers, and the Reds are hitting .349 as a team thus far.
• According to the Elias Sports Bureau, today’s Houston Astros-Reds game will be the first between a 5-0 or better team and a 0-5 or worse team since 2003. It happened three times that season.

This Date in Baseball History
1977 - The expansion Toronto Blue Jays began their major league odyssey with a 9-5 victory over the Chicago White Sox at Toronto's Exhibition Stadium. Al Woods, pinch hitting for Steve Bowling in the fifth inning, became the 11th pinch hitter with a home run in his first at-bat.

1979 - Ken Forsch of the Houston Astros pitched a no-hitter against the Atlanta Braves to duplicate the no-hitter tossed by his brother Bob of the St. Louis Cardinals against the Philadelphia Phillies on April 16, 1978. They are the first brothers to pitch no-hitters.
Jamie Moyer

1984 – The Detroit Tigers’ Jack Morris pitched a no-hitter against the White Sox despite giving up six walks. It was the first Tigers no-hitter since Jim Bunning's in 1958.

Trivia Answer: Making his first start with the Red Sox, Jamie Moyer picked up the win to put an end to Boston’s 0-5 start in 1996. Moyer, now an ESPN analyst, held the Kansas City Royals to one run and four hits in 7⅓ innings.
Today’s Trivia: With the Minnesota Twins and New York Yankees set to square off on Monday Night Baseball. Who are the only two players with 40 or more home runs for both franchises?

Quick Hits -- A look back at some fun home runs numbers from an eventful opening weekend:
Howie Kendrick

• There have been 17 home runs hit by second basemen this season, most of any position. That includes three from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s Howie Kendrick. He has more home runs than all shortstops combined (2).

• Cincinnati Reds catchers Ryan Hanigan and Ramon Hernandez are a combined 9-12 with 3 HR and 7 RBI. By contrast, the Tampa Bay Rays are 12-91 with 1 HR and 3 RBI.

• The Texas Rangers have 3 HR with the count full. Last season, the Seattle Mariners had just 5 HR coming on full counts.

• Ike Davis’ home run on Sunday came on a 3-0 count. The New York Mets didn’t have a home run on a 3-0 count last season, and Carlos Delgado in 2009 was the last player to do it for New York.

• Scott Rolen’s home run on Saturday came on an 0-2 count. Last season, the Reds only had one 0-2 homer.

• The Boston Red Sox have allowed at least three home runs in three straight games. Last season, the Red Sox never allowed three home runs in back-to-back games, much less three in a row.

• The Rangers hit 11 home runs in three games against Boston. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, only one other team in MLB history hit as many as 11 home runs in its first three games of a season. That was the 2006 Detroit Tigers with 15.

• Also from Elias: Boston tied the 1955 Milwaukee Braves' record for home runs allowed in a team's first three games of a season.

• Texas’ 11 HR are already more than either the Mariners or Houston Astros had last April (both had 9).
Clay Buchholz

• Clay Buchholz allowed four home runs Sunday after allowing nine all last season. He’s allowed 37 HR in his career, but 12 of those have come in three starts.

• The Angels have more extra-base hits (20) than runs (18). That’s in part due to eight of their nine home runs coming with the bases empty. In fact, they have more solo home runs (8) than hits with runners in scoring position (7-42).
• There have been 108 HR hit through 46 games. There were 98 hit through 47 games last year.

Trivia Answer: Chuck Knoblauch and Roy Smalley are the only players with 40+ home runs for both the Twins and Yankees. Dave Winfield (31 HR for the Twins) came close.

When the improbable becomes probable

August, 26, 2010
In the Colorado Rockies' come-from-way-behind 12-10 victory Wednesday afternoon against the Atlanta Braves, their win probability (based on teams throughout history in similar situations) dipped as low as 1.2 percent in the fourth inning:

• The Rockies trailed 3-0 after the top of the first, meaning their win probability was 28.9 percent even before they came to bat.

• After the top of the second, the Rockies trailed 7-0 - a win probability of 7.0 percent.

• When Omar Infante homered in the third inning to give the Braves a 10-1 lead, the Rockies' win probability fell to 2.2 percent.

• With the score still 10-1, Brian McCann doubled leading off the top of the fourth, and the Rockies' win probability dipped to its lowest point at 1.2 percent.

• Trailing 10-6 in the sixth inning, the Rockies' win probability sat at just 15.5 percent until a Ryan Spilborghs two-run double increased it to 30.8 percent, cutting the score to 10-8.

• The Rockies' win probability did not get above 30.8 percent until the eighth inning, when Carlos Gonzalez’s two-run single tied the game at 10. The Rockies win probability jumped all the way from 24.9 percent to 61.2 percent with the hit.

• When Troy Tulowitzki followed with the go-ahead single to make it 11-10, the Rockies' win probability went up to 84.9 percent, and increased to 93.1 percent with Todd Helton’s RBI single providing the final run.

• The Rockies' win probability did not dip below 90 percent from that time forward as they closed out the Braves in the 9th.

The Cincinnati Reds' 12-11 victory over the San Francisco Giants on Wednesday featured several win probability swings:

• The Reds scored four runs in top of the first inning and had a win probability of 82.4 percent before the Giants even came to bat.

• After the Reds scored four more runs in the third inning to take an 8-1 lead, their win probability stood at 96.4 percent.

• When Homer Bailey singled to give Cincinnati a 10-1 lead in the fifth inning, the Reds' win probability was all the way up to 99.5 percent, its highest point until the game was over.

• The Giants cut the lead to 10-5 after six innings, but the Reds' win probability was still high at 97.4 percent.

• Even when Juan Uribe homered in the eighth to make it 10-8, the Reds still had a win probability of 85.2 percent.

• The biggest win probability jump of the game occurred on Andres Torres’ eighth-inning double, which tied the game at 10 and knocked the Reds’ win probability from 65.3 percent down to 26.2 percent.

• When Aubrey Huff’s sacrifice fly in the eighth gave the Giants an 11-10 lead, the Reds' win probability fell to 14.6 percent.

• The Reds entered the 9th inning trailing 11-10. After Ryan Hanigan flied out leading off the top of the inning, the Reds' win probability was at its lowest point at just 8.3 percent.

• After Drew Stubbs reached second base on an error, Paul Janish’s game-tying single in the 9th took the Reds' win probability from 21.9 percent up to 56.1 percent, the third-biggest jump of the game.

• The Reds took a 12-11 lead in the 12th inning on a Joey Votto single, which brought the Reds win probability from 48.1 to 84.9 percent, the second-largest win probability movement of the game.

• Torres came to bat in the ninth inning with runners on first and third and two out, with the Giants trailing 12-11. The Reds’ win probability was at 80.9 percent at this juncture. Torres grounded out to end the game, bringing the Reds’ win probability to 100 percent.

FanGraphs: Best underhyped catchers

May, 28, 2010
Raise your hand if you know who Matt Wieters is. I hope a lot of you out there have your virtual hand up. Now raise your hand if you know who John Jaso is. Ryan Hanigan? Carlos Ruiz? Now, there is probably a lot fewer of you with hands up.

Minor League hype is a fickle beast. For every Jason Heyward, there are five Brandon Woods. Many regarded Wieters as the savior of the Baltimore Orioles on his way through the minors. His numbers certainly supported that belief, but they have yet to show up where it counts. This isn’t writing Matt Wieters off as a future Major League star. He just turned 24 so he has plenty of time to adjust to the bigs and begin posting the numbers people dreamed out of him. While we wait to see if that will occur, some catchers that got nowhere near the hype of Wieters have nonetheless turned in some valuable seasons for their big league clubs.

Ryan Hanigan isn’t a sexy prospect but he does one thing particularly well and that’s draw walks. His 31 walks in just 293 plate appearances helped him to a .361 OBP with the Reds. Hanigan, whom the Reds signed as an undrafted free agent back in 2002, has had an even bigger success story this year with a .338/.449/.486 triple slash line while splitting time with Ramon Hernandez. It is a small sample, but Hanigan’s .409 wOBA has made him the seventh most valuable hitting catcher in the majors, despite being a part-time player. Hanigan is almost certainly not going to maintain numbers that lofty, but ZiPS projects him to post a .334 wOBA going forward, which almost exactly matches ZiPS’ .336 wOBA projection for Wieters. Maybe someone should start a Ryan Hanigan Facts website.

John Jaso also flew under the hype radar when he failed to show much power in the minors. What he did show though was good plate discipline and low strikeout rates, which helped to maintain a high average and impressive OBP. Getting an extended look in Tampa due to an injury to Dioner Navarro, Jaso has made his case for keeping the starting job with a .324/.449/.493 line.Jaso’s 8.5 percent strikeout rate is just behind Hanigan’s 8.1 percent and, among catchers with at least 50 trips to plate this year, they rank second and third respectively, with only A.J. Pierzynski bettering the unheralded pair.

Hype of minor league players is generally well founded. It comes from quality scouting reports and/or fabulous numbers. Hype doesn’t always equate to Major League results though, and certainly does not guarantee instant success. Sometimes it takes awhile and sometimes, solid Major League catchers appear out of seemingly nowhere.

Matthew Carruth is a writer for FanGraphs.

TMI Power Poll: top 10 catchers

April, 12, 2010
Week 2 of the baseball season means poll number 2 for the TMI panel. This week we ranked which bearers of the “tools of ignorance” are hardest to ignore.

Catcher is the most demanding position in baseball. Taking hits from balls, bats, players - these human backstops have to also manage the game, keep their pitcher sane and at the same time be competent with a bat in their hands.

Who does it best? If you’ve watched any baseball the last few years you know it’s not really close. Joe Mauer hit .365 last season and through Sunday was hitting .381 this season. Oh, and he’s the 2-time reigning AL Gold Glover. He received all 8 first-place votes from our panel.

Here’s the rest of our top 10:

Others receiving votes: Miguel Olivo, Gerald Laird, Miguel Montero, Mike Napoli, Ryan Hanigan, Chris Iannetta, Ivan Rodriguez