Joel Hanrahan was flat out silly for Pittsburgh in 2009. Did we give up too early?

While working on a different post in which I am looking into the merits of having a true closer competition in Washington (will be posted later), I decided to look up a name which I tried to block out of my mind after we traded him last summer, Joel Hanrahan. Forgetting Hanrahan was an easy thing to do. As our closer in 2009 he blew five saves in 10 chances, had a .342 BAA, and a 7.71 ERA.

This is why I was so shocked to see the Hanrahan’s line in Pittsburgh after we had traded him:

2009 PIT: 31.1 IP, 7HLD, .204 BAA, 1.72 ERA

Hanrahan struggled in his first games for Pittsburgh as well, giving up three earned runs in his first three appearances. However his post all-star break numbers were phenomenal, which could lead some to believe that his failure in Washington was likely a result of a mental block or a slight glitch that needed to be corrected in his approach.

2009 Second Half: 28.0 IP, 7 HLD, .182 BAA, 0.96 ERA.

Is it possible Hanrahan actually was talented after all? Did we give up too quickly on him?

Both points are debatable. Hanrahan’s second half was a small sample size that when combined with his first half balanced his 2009 total to match his career averages.

2009 Total: 4.78 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, 10.13 K/9, 4.78 BB/9
Career Avg: 4.74 ERA, 1.60 WHIP,  9.39 K/9, 5.15 BB/9

It could just be a case of extreme streakiness on Hanrahan’s part that caused him to have such a poor first, and then great second half. Hanrahan certainly showed in the second half that he has the ability to get MLB batters out, but at the age of 28, he had been given plenty of chances in Washington to prove consistent productivity. Furthermore, it seemed that any hope of being productive in a Washington uniform had been lost. Hanrahan was in his head, not on the mound. He needed a change of scenery.

The Nationals also got Nyjer Morgan out of the deal, who in the long run is much more valuable than Hanrahan.