The Other Atlanta Youngster

At around this time last year, I was sitting on the edge of my seat watching the much anticipated debut of Atlanta’s highly touted prospect, Tommy Hanson, against my Brewers.  He was somewhat disappointing that day, yielding 7 runs over 6 innings in a game the Braves lost to the Crew.  But his stuff was undeniable, and it led him to an outstanding campaign that resulted in a third place finish in the Rookie of the Year voting.

Through 21 starts, Hanson went 11-4 with a 2.89 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and 116 strikeouts in 127.2 innings.  Despite that success, the 23 year old is merely an afterthought when talking about the Braves these days.  Mention Atlanta, and the conversation will surely begin and end with one player, this year’s phenom, Jason Heyward.  Heyward has captivated baseball fans, and rightfully so, but we must not forget about Atlanta’s ace.

Hanson faced the Brewers again tonight and he barely allowed 3 hits, let alone anything resembling the three bombs he gave up in his debut last year.  Over 8 innings, he limited Milwaukee to 6 base runners, no runs and sent 8 Brewers down on strikes.  The outing lowered his season ERA to 2.30, his WHIP to 1.14 and kept his K/9 over 9.  This is his sixth of seven outings in which he has limited his opponent to 2 runs or less, yet he’s 3-2 on the year due to a lack of run support.

Somewhat surprisingly, Hanson has also supported a velocity increase this year.  On average, his fastball is coming in at 93.6 MPH, nearly a 1.5 increase over his respectable 92.3 mark last year.  The rest of his arsenal (slider, curve, and change) has followed suit.  It was probable, if not a given, that his numbers would fail to live up to the lofty standards he set last year.  I know it’s still very early, but it’s becoming possible that he could even improve on last year and thrust himself into the NL Cy Young conversation.

We all love J-Hey, Timmay, and Jimay (Ubaldo), but let’s not continue to overlook Tommay.

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