New and Improved? Tommy Hanson’s approach in 2012

Tommy Hanson is a different guy this season and I am not talking about his caveman style hair.

We heard he was making some adjustments to his delivery to try and get rid of the hitch he has always had, and relieve some pressure off of his arm. Many of us also speculated that the change would make him a bit more effective when trying to hold runners on bases. This proved to be untrue as Jordon Schafer easily took 3 bags against him last night but Hanson does seem to have found another way to be an effective pitcher.

Tommy's not going to be able to throw the fastball by anyone but he could make them look stupid with his breaking pitches.(Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE)

Over the past couple years Tommy’s fastball has decreased in velocity. In 2010 he was averaging 93.46 MPH on the heater. In 2011 it dropped down to 91.86 MPH and so far in 2012 he is down to 89.99.

Normally we would start to worry when one of our top pitchers began to lose velocity. Tommy Hanson used to throw in the mid 90’s and his fastball was arguably his best pitch. It looks like that could be a thing of the past however.

As Hanson’s fastball has gotten slower, his breaking balls have both improved since 2010. To get an easy look at this I’ll throw together a table showing horizontal and vertical movement courtesy of BrooksBaseball.

2010

H. Movement V. Movement
Curveball 11.43 -51.68
Slider 6.03 -30.73

2011

H. Movement V. Movement
Curveball 8.19 -55.86
Slider 5.79 -34.74

2012

H. Movement V. Movement
Curveball 10.59 -59.00
Slider 9.07 -33.89

We can see a big difference in the movement of the pitches, especially in the curveball. The increased movement this year could be due to the new delivery but I would guess it has more to do with the velocity ‘issue’ mentioned above.

The fastball wasn’t the only thing to slow down over the years. The curveball was clocked at 76.81 MPH in 2010, 74.83 in 2011, and 72.50 so far in 2012. The slower the pitch goes the more time it will have to move, which has been proven in the tables above.

We only have 2 games on Tommy in 2012 so things could change a bit, but I wouldn’t expect him to have some speed increase anytime soon. The toll on his shoulder has likely been taken and we are going to be watching a transformed pitcher this year. He can’t get away with blowing a fastball by people anymore. Changing speeds and hitting spots will be more important than ever for him, but if he can figure it out, he could be better than ever.

In 2010 Hanson was getting whiffs on his slider 14.45% of the time and his curveball 10.46% of the time. In the two games he has started so far this year those numbers have jumped to 25.53% and 17.24%.

He still has a lot of work to do. The control hasn’t been there with a lot of the pitches and his fastball is more hittable than ever now, but like I said earlier if he can mix his pitches and locate he should still be one of Atlanta’s top young arms.

 

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Topics: Atlanta Braves, PitchFX, Tommy Hanson

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  • http://www.sabbump.org/ clearwall

    From  a starter, I rarely concern myself with velocity. If he’s getting outs throwing 90,that’s better than serving up 96-mph meatballs. It looks like he threw more over the top last year and this year is going more 3/4 like he originally did(as evidenced by a drop in H movement and increase in V movement.) One thing that worries me though, is that his slider has increased Vertically where it should be reacting more horizontally. I’d worry if his slider acts too much like a curveball.

  • http://www.sabbump.org/ clearwall

    From  a starter, I rarely concern myself with velocity. If he’s getting outs throwing 90,that’s better than serving up 96-mph meatballs. It looks like he threw more over the top last year and this year is going more 3/4 like he originally did(as evidenced by a drop in H movement and increase in V movement.) One thing that worries me though, is that his slider last year increased Vertically where it should be reacting more horizontally. His H movement also went the wrong way providing more fuel to that argument. I’d worry if his slider acts too much like a curveball because he’ll effectively lose a pitch. It looks like it’s working better this year, but as we know, its only 2 games to go on.

  • http://tomahawktake.com/ CarlosCollazo

     @clearwall I agree with you on the slider. I almost wonder if he would do better to throw more curveballs. Right now he throws the slider more but so far it has been working fine. He will be interesting to watch this season.

  • http://www.sabbump.org/ clearwall

     @CarlosCollazo I donno who classifies these pitches during the games,. but last night, almost every off-speed pitch Tommy threw, the scoreboard listed as a slider. I know there’s no way he was throwing that many sliders. And with your evidence here of how his curve has so much drop nowadays and the slider acts more like a curve, i wonder if a lot of them were mis-classified.

  • http://tomahawktake.com/ CarlosCollazo

     @clearwall I wouldn’t trust the score board on that one. Check out Brooks Baseball if you haven’t already. They do a great job with pitchFX data. Also looks like Tommy is trying out a sinker this year. I wonder how that will go.

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