The World’s Most Important Utility Player In The World

Dave · February 20, 2010 at 10:30 am · Filed Under Mariners 

Sorry for the headline. I hate that commercial too.

But, while its kind of hyperbole, with the way the roster is currently setup, the performance of Jack Hannahan is far more vital to the team’s success than an ordinary reserve infielder. As Geoff Baker noted, he’s already in camp, and the team is having him work out as a catcher, which he hasn’t done since high school. The M’s want him to provide as much versatility as possible, and getting some work behind the plate will help if the team ends up needing to use him as an emergency catcher at some point.

But, it isn’t Hannahan’s ability to catch that will matter much to this team. It’s his ability to play shortstop.

As we’ve talked about, Jack Wilson is not exactly Cal Ripken. Over the last three years, he played in 67 percent of the Pirates games, and its only 60 percent if we just look at the last two years. Heading into his age 32 season, coming off a couple of seasons where nagging leg problems have regularly kept him off the field, you have to be pretty conservative with his playing time projections. Even if he’s totally healthy, we probably can’t project him for more than 70 to 75 percent of the team’s starts at shortstop. He’s just not durable enough to handle more than that.

That leaves approximately 40 starts at the position unaccounted for, and Hannahan is the only guy on the roster who can credibly be asked to start those games. Despite only playing three games at the position in his professional career (2 in the majors, 1 in the minors), Hannahan has the physical skills to handle the job. He’s proven to be a quality defender at both second and third, and has enough range and arm to handle the SS spot.

But, while he has flashed SS skills at other positions, he hasn’t yet had to play the position regularly, and the M’s will need him to be able to do so this year. Given Wilson’s health track record, Hannahan is not so much a reserve as he is a part-time player. Between playing ~30 to 40 games at short and the starts he’ll pick up when Figgins or Lopez need a day off, Hannahan’s probably in line for 300+ plate appearances this year.

If he can hit at anything close to a league average rate, he could really be an asset for the M’s. If he hits like he did a year ago, then he’ll be a problem, as a Wilson-like offensive player without the same defensive skills. Given the patience he’s shown and a swing that should generate some power, I think he’s a better hitter than we’ve seen, but it’s certainly a gamble. The M’s are currently counting on a guy who has almost no experience at shortstop and hasn’t hit in a couple of years to play at least a couple of times a week.

How he performs is going to have a pretty significant impact on how the team does this year. If he can hold down SS while Wilson is on the bench, and provide some offensive punch, the team can pinch-hit for Wilson more frequently, and not burn resources trying to fill the hole when he inevitably lands on the DL. If Hannahan flops, though, then SS could become something of a sinkhole, and there just isn’t much depth at the position in the organization, so they may have to expend some resources to fix the problem from the outside.

While his official title of utility infielder makes him sound like a minor part, in reality, Jack Hannahan is a pretty important player for the M’s this year.

Comments

56 Responses to “The World’s Most Important Utility Player In The World”

  1. Leroy Stanton on February 20th, 2010 11:07 am

    You don’t sign Jack Wilson if you think he’ll miss at least 40 games a year. I’m sure Hannahan will see some time at short, but I’m not sure he’ll see much. They may decide to move Figgins over or even Lopez. However, I do think Hannahan’s a very important player this year and it will be interesting to see if the M’s have enough faith in him to not carry another infielder. I suspect that, with Figgins on the team, Hannahan will be sufficient.

  2. Dave on February 20th, 2010 11:10 am

    Except, you know, they told Chone Figgins that he wouldn’t be moved around the diamond this year when they signed him. Which we’ve told you, many times. You just refuse to believe it, apparently.

  3. wabbles on February 20th, 2010 11:11 am

    My wintertime rosters always include “STS” for Spring Training Surprise. Hopefully we’ll get one of those at shortstop (either for Seattle or Tacoma). So who is our third-string shortstop (You know, emergency, in the same way that Garko is an emergency catcher.) and does that person have a chance of improving and taking over the second-string role? What about Figgins?

  4. wabbles on February 20th, 2010 11:20 am

    Whoops! Never mind on Figgins then. (Couldn’t get the editing function to work.)

  5. Typical Idiot Fan on February 20th, 2010 11:27 am

    So, Hannahan doesn’t drink beer, but when he does, he drinks Dos Ekis?

  6. Mekias on February 20th, 2010 11:41 am

    If Wilson goes on the DL, I’m sure they’d bring in a more experienced shortstop. Hannahan might get 10-20 starts at SS I’m guessing. That’s still quite a bit.

    I’ve never been a big fan of trying to predict injuries unless the player has a chronic injury already (like Griffey’s knees or Branyan’s back). But they obviously have to have a plan in place if Wilson does get injured. I’m sure the emergency plan is Hannahan and there’s a longer term plan that doesn’t involve him.

    Regardless, Hannahan will definitely be a big part of this team in 2010. I hope they don’t spend too much time with him at catcher as backup SS and 2B are much bigger concerns.

  7. dcobenton76 on February 20th, 2010 11:48 am

    The niche available to Hannahan, if he can step up to it, reminds me of the role played by Mark McLemore in the 2001 season, when he hit .286 while playing 6 positions. There was a price to be paid for that versatility, but it was still incredibly valuable to that team.

  8. Leroy Stanton on February 20th, 2010 12:02 pm

    Except, you know, they told Chone Figgins that he wouldn’t be moved around the diamond this year when they signed him. Which we’ve told you, many times. You just refuse to believe it, apparently.

    Yes, I do refuse to accept your (I’m not sure who “we” is) characterization of Figgins’ and the M’s understanding as an immutable situation. It’s quite possible that they had discussions about this very topic prior to trading Bill Hall. True, I don’t think Figgins wants to be a super-utility guy, but I don’t think that’s what we’re talking about here. Figgins strikes me as a very team-oriented, flexible player who is proud of his versatility:

    “Me and Jack [Zduriencik] kind of talked, so it would probably be second,” Figgins said in a Tuesday night conference call from Florida, where he had just arrived after a flight back from Seattle. “I’ve moved around pretty much my whole career except last year, but even then I played a couple of games at second base. So, I think those guys know that I’m pretty much prepared for anything.”

    Chone Figgins

  9. behappy on February 20th, 2010 12:14 pm

    I am a big fan of Hannahan. I do believe he has shown enough glove at 2B and a strong arm at 3B to be at least league average at SS.

    What I find interesting is Jacks (GM) willingness to carry only one back-up middle infielder. Jack shows a lot of faith in Jack.
    Also, with the other Jack being so injury prone that will leave us with jack shit on the bench for 40 games or so.

    Dave what seems odd to me though, is if Don uses Figgins strictly as a 3B a lot of the flexibilty of the roster is gone. Would Don be willing to move Figgins around when we are all out of Jacks?

  10. Dave on February 20th, 2010 12:16 pm

    Choosing ignorance is not a good idea. Jack has told us, straight up, that Figgins is going to play one position this year. They promised him he’d know whether he would be a 2B or a 3B before he got to camp, and that he’d play that position almost exclusively. They won’t rule out moving him around in an emergency, but they aren’t going to plan on having him play SS regularly.

    You can choose not to believe this if you want, but that doesn’t make you right. And when you base your opinions on your willful ignorance, it renders them useless.

  11. Leroy Stanton on February 20th, 2010 12:33 pm

    You can choose not to believe this if you want, but that doesn’t make you right. And when you base your opinions on your willful ignorance, it renders them useless.

    If you read what I wrote you’ll see that I’m only considering other possibilities and acknowledging that situations change. I’m pretty confident with being right about that.

    You, on the other hand, are rigid and absolute in your position. And that doesn’t make you right either. But, it’s more embarrassing when you’re wrong.

  12. Dave on February 20th, 2010 12:36 pm

    Information > Speculation.

  13. diderot on February 20th, 2010 12:41 pm

    So when Lopez needs a day off…or has a minor injury…is the better plan to have Hannahan play second…or move Figgins over temporarily and have Hannahan play third?

    I ask this based on the relative experience of the two at second.

  14. Leroy Stanton on February 20th, 2010 12:46 pm

    New Information > Old Information

  15. _David_ on February 20th, 2010 12:52 pm

    Dave, what is the scope of the disaster that might be moving Lopez to short and Tui to 2nd? (I know, I cringe too.)

  16. robbbbbb on February 20th, 2010 12:53 pm

    The niche available to Hannahan, if he can step up to it, reminds me of the role played by Mark McLemore in the 2001 season, when he hit .286 while playing 6 positions. There was a price to be paid for that versatility, but it was still incredibly valuable to that team.

    McLemore was a much better hitter. Seriously: The guy put up .380+ OBPs for a couple of seasons. Jack Hannahan reminds me a lot more of Doug Strange, and I think that’s what the M’s can expect out of him. Good glove, not totally useless bat.

  17. johnfree63 on February 20th, 2010 1:23 pm

    This isn’t any different then last year is it? If Jack Wilson hits the DL wouldn’t the M’s call up Josh Wilson or Chris Woodward to add some (at least a body) middle infield depth? I just assume that if Jack is going to miss 40 starts that would be at least one stint on the DL.

  18. BLYKMYK44 on February 20th, 2010 2:03 pm

    If he’s so important as a back up SS, but has minimal experience. Then, why are the spending time in ST teaching him to catch? Seems like they’d want to spend as much time as possible getting him ready for the position he is most likely to play during the year.

  19. Mekias on February 20th, 2010 2:08 pm

    If he’s so important as a back up SS, but has minimal experience. Then, why are the spending time in ST teaching him to catch? Seems like they’d want to spend as much time as possible getting him ready for the position he is most likely to play during the year.

    I’m sure it’s just because only pitchers and catchers are having drills right now. Once the other infielders show up, Hannahan should be with them fulltime.

  20. SlowRoast on February 20th, 2010 2:27 pm

    Hannahan’s stats the last two years in Oakland: 2008: 430 ab and ba of .218, 2009: .193 and Seattle 2009: .230. Not really the stats you want to see for a guy coming in to replace a person in the lineup. Hannahan is better suited not on the team, or as a late inning defensive replacement only. If someone goes down in the infield, I think the Mariners would be best to put Garko at third and move everyone around accordingly to who was injured. For instance, if Jack Wilson gets hurt: you put chone at SS and move Garko to third. If Lopez is hurt you move Chone to 2B. If Chone gets hurt: you just sub in Garko.

    If Garko is hurt and another player in the infield is hurt, I would call up Josh Wilson, who I thought showed a lot of potential, or you bring someone else up. I know that this team is a defense oriented team, but Hannahan is not the end all solution nor the right guy for a full time replacement. I like his versatility, but I hate his bat. If you can’t hit you should not be in the MLB. And for all you Tui fans out there, I dont think he is going to ever be a starting MLB player. He is a good minor league player, but so far he has not proven or shown that he can make it at the everyday level. I would rather have Hannahan, sigh, then Tui anyday. Waite for Ackley if you want another middle infielder or Trunfel. I think we still have Trunfel. But maybe he was traded.

  21. SlowRoast on February 20th, 2010 2:39 pm

    Oh and one more thing, Jack Wilson’s track record of getting injured only really applies to the last two years. Before that he played in almost every single game. Dave’s stats are a little misleading, as he averaged the last three years. Here are the numbers fellas:
    2001 PIT 108 Rookie Year
    2002 PIT 147
    2003 PIT 150
    2004 PIT 157
    2005 PIT 158
    2006 PIT 142
    2007 PIT 135
    2008 PIT 87 Calf Strain Early in Season
    2009[+] 106 Heel Injury and Hand Injury.

    All of the injuries were freak accidents that are not likely to re-occure.

    I think Jack Wilson plays 140 games this season at SS. There is no need to worry about injuries, because you cannot predict injuries. They happen to everyone at times when you dont think that they will happen. The only thing that you can do is react to when the injury occurs and go from there. The worst case scenario is that you ave someone you dont want there full time for one game and then you find a replacement in Tacoma or elseware.

    I am interested in seeig how Ackley performs in Spring Training and where he starts the season off. I hope that they groom him as a second baseman and not an outfielder. Though, I like the idea of the flexibility that playing multiple positions would provide the team.

  22. Leroy Stanton on February 20th, 2010 2:50 pm

    I think Jack Wilson plays 140 games this season at SS

    I’ll guess 146 (90% of the games). If he misses more than that, he’s probably on the DL and then you call up a replacement. Incidentally, 2008 was the first time he went on the DL. But, of course, he’s not in his 20′s anymore.

  23. Droid Rage on February 20th, 2010 5:28 pm

    Over the past three years, Jack Wilson has spent 79 days out of action on a day to day basis in addition to his 71 days on the disabled list.

    Jack Hannahan will get a lot of starts at short this year if he is the only backup middle infielder. Dave is right about his performance having a significant impact on the team this year.

  24. The Ancient Mariner on February 20th, 2010 5:30 pm

    @SlowRoast:

    Oh and one more thing, Jack Wilson’s track record of getting injured only really applies to the last two years. Before that he played in almost every single game.

    And yet the very stats you quote don’t support your assertion, as he hasn’t “played in almost every single game” since 2005; he hasn’t even played 140 games in a season since 2006.

    There is no need to worry about injuries, because you cannot predict injuries.

    The idea that if you can’t predict something, you just don’t worry about it is a new one to me. I assume from this that you don’t have health insurance, or car insurance? After all, there’s no need to worry about either one, because you cannot predict when you’ll need them.

    Finally, I’m amazed that you (and Leroy) seem unfamiliar with the concept of a player being day to day with injuries — not injured enough to warrant a DL stint, but not really able to play, either. It’s not really that uncommon a thing. I guess in Leroy’s case, it’s just been too long since he played . . .

  25. Milendriel on February 20th, 2010 5:42 pm

    The Dos Equis reference doesn’t bother me, but was the redundancy in the headline necessary?

  26. DrM on February 20th, 2010 7:17 pm

    I believe that Josh Wilson may be next in line after Jack Wilson and Hannahan. Except for his bat being right handed instead of left handed I’m not sure he isn’t just as capable as Hannahan.

  27. Leroy Stanton on February 20th, 2010 7:55 pm

    Finally, I’m amazed that you (and Leroy) seem unfamiliar with the concept of a player being day to day with injuries — not injured enough to warrant a DL stint, but not really able to play, either. It’s not really that uncommon a thing.

    I said he’d miss ~10% of his games for that very reason.

  28. nwivoryhunter on February 20th, 2010 8:56 pm

    Dave~
    I’m calling BS on on the whole not moving figgins around thing. Whatever, I was in the room as well when figgins and Jack both said that figgy was willing to move anywhere needed. Don’t be a dick just to be a dick! :(

  29. Dave on February 20th, 2010 9:06 pm

    New Information > Old Information

    You don’t have any information. You have baseless opinions, repeated ad nauseum.

    Dave, what is the scope of the disaster that might be moving Lopez to short and Tui to 2nd? (I know, I cringe too.)

    This will never happen.

    Hannahan’s stats the last two years in Oakland: 2008: 430 ab and ba of .218, 2009: .193 and Seattle 2009: .230.

    Don’t use batting average.

    If someone goes down in the infield, I think the Mariners would be best to put Garko at third and move everyone around accordingly to who was injured.

    Appreciate defense more.

    If Garko is hurt and another player in the infield is hurt, I would call up Josh Wilson, who I thought showed a lot of potential, or you bring someone else up.

    Josh Wilson sucks.

    I think we still have Trunfel. But maybe he was traded.

    Research before commenting.

    All of the injuries were freak accidents that are not likely to re-occure.

    Stop saying things that aren’t true.

    There is no need to worry about injuries, because you cannot predict injuries.

    Wrong again. Your ratio of words to truth is terrible.

    The Dos Equis reference doesn’t bother me, but was the redundancy in the headline necessary?

    It’s not a Dos Equis reference. It’s that ridiculous Nationwide commercial that plays every 5 minutes during NBC’s olympics coverage.

    Whatever, I was in the room as well when figgins and Jack both said that figgy was willing to move anywhere needed.

    I’m not talking about what Jack said at the USSM event.

    Don’t be a dick just to be a dick

    I’m out of patience with Leroy’s shtick.

  30. Milendriel on February 20th, 2010 9:19 pm

    Hmm, this is what I get for not watching the Olympics. I found the Nationwide commercial and watched it. Yep, it sucks… but at least now the headline makes sense to me!

  31. SlowRoast on February 21st, 2010 1:16 am

    If you dont want to compare someone by batting average, how about OBP? Well, that doesn’t look any better for Hannahan. As he is far below the MLB average in all the categories; I realize that this may not be fair to compare him to an average MLB player because he does not play everyday. Dave, also, please dont get at me with your BA Ad hoc fallacy comments. Don’t take these messages personal either. They are viewpoints of fans of the game.

    Here is Hannahan’s career averages:
    BA.224 OBP.311 SLG.347 OPS.658
    Here are Ryan Garko’s career averages, just for comparison.
    BA.279 OBP.351 SLG.441 OPS.792
    Here are the MLB averages last year:
    BA.266 OBP.335 SLG.428 OPS.763
    And here are the pitiful M’s:
    BA.258 OBP.314 SLG.402 OPS.716

    On to the “I can predict injuries man”. Get out of here with that comment. If you would have read on you would have read that there are mechanisms already in place to account for minor injuries, i.e. bench players, i.e. Garko and Hannahan. That is why you have a farm system. Also, please keep things in context. Your ad hominem fallacies should be kept at home. Triple A and trades are your insurance measures.

    Oh, and Truinfel is still a M, but he will probably not be ready for a couple of years.

    Another note, Ackley is listed as a first baseman. Kinda funny that they would still place his college (limited because of injury) position, but I am sure all of you knew this.

  32. Leroy Stanton on February 21st, 2010 7:34 am

    You don’t have any information. You have baseless opinions, repeated ad nauseum.

    Information:

    - The M’s traded utilityman Bill Hall since signing Figgins and since making the statement about how Figgins will be used.

    - Hannahan has played 3 games at SS in his career (majors & minors). He has played 97 games at 2B in the minors and 2 innings in the majors.

    - Figgins has played 27 games at SS, 113 at 2B in his major league career. In the minors, 286 at SS and 397 at 2B.

    - Lopez came up as a SS and has been a middle infielder his whole career.

    Based on this information, I formed my speculative opinion:

    I’m sure Hannahan will see some time at short, but I’m not sure he’ll see much. They may decide to move Figgins over or even Lopez.

    Is any part of your statement (attack?) accurate? I have information. My opinion is clearly not baseless. Ad nauseum? Because you say so? THAT should be an easy point to make with actual information, unless you simply prefer baseless speculation.

  33. Leroy Stanton on February 21st, 2010 7:53 am

    I’m out of patience with Leroy’s shtick.

    And what “shtick” would that be? Having an opinion that’s different from yours?

    You seem to be bothered when people express an opinion that differs from yours. Are we supposed to regard your speculation as fact? Can you not accept that reasonable people can draw different conclusions (or see other possibilities) when looking at the same information? And would it kill you to be a little more respectful of other people’s views?

  34. Shanfan on February 21st, 2010 9:41 am

    Leroy,
    I think the Pope is still pissed that you exposed his ‘infallibility’. You were right about the M’s requiring Garko and he was wrong.

  35. Pine Tar on February 21st, 2010 9:46 am

    OMG. Lopez at short! My mind is melting. Just forfeit the game instead and save us the misery.

  36. joser on February 21st, 2010 10:05 am

    The only way Lopez plays short is if something like eight other guys get hurt in the same game.

    Another note, Ackley is listed as a first baseman. Kinda funny that they would still place his college (limited because of injury) position, but I am sure all of you knew this.

    I think it’s standard practice to list a player by the position he was drafted at until he shows up somewhere else in the pros.

  37. djw on February 21st, 2010 10:14 am

    If your creative collage of factual information leads you to conclude Lopez will be used at SS, you are almost certainly doing it wrong.

  38. Pine Tar on February 21st, 2010 10:16 am

    Also, many second basemen come through the system as shortstops. That does not mean they can play shortstop at the major league level. SS is not an easy position. I am worried that Hannahan will not do well there defensively.

  39. Leroy Stanton on February 21st, 2010 10:28 am

    What I’ve said previously about SS depth:

    Feb 2, 9:07AM:

    CCW,

    I wonder how SS depth will play out. Do you think Hannahan would get the nod over Figgins and Lopez? He’s only played 3 games there in his career, including the minors. I’d have to think they’d prefer Figgins at SS. Lopez obviously has lots of experience at SS, but it’s hard to say he’d be the choice over Hannahan.

    The Mariners will use ST to decide how comfortable they are with Hannahan at SS. It’s quite possible he’ll be just fine.

  40. Leroy Stanton on February 21st, 2010 10:34 am

    [dupe]

  41. tubbabubba22 on February 21st, 2010 2:16 pm

    [off-topic]

  42. Jeff Nye on February 21st, 2010 2:43 pm

    I’d like to direct some of you to a rival blog that might be more your speed:

    http://ussmcrap.blogspot.com/

  43. Leroy Stanton on February 21st, 2010 3:22 pm

    It doesn’t seem to be terribly active. Nice colors though.

  44. Tim B. on February 21st, 2010 4:18 pm

    Could Seattle be one of the mystery teams looking at Felipe Lopez as an upgrade over Hannahan?

  45. Marinersmanjk on February 21st, 2010 5:39 pm

    Wow Leroy you really do have a knack for pissing off Dave. Tim, I’ve been thinking the same thing. The Cardinals are apparently out of the running for Lopez and the only real competition seems to be the Padres. At this late in the season, we could get him for cheap though I doubt he would really want to come here seeing as we can’t offer him a starting job.

  46. ndrfx on February 21st, 2010 10:26 pm

    And would it kill you to be a little more respectful of other people’s views?

    His ‘views’ are almost always based on evidence. You know, information of value gathered together and formed into a knowledge base which he then interprets and tries to explain to the many people that don’t want to take the time to do all this work. The same work you HAVE NOT done, clearly. You come around here pulling things out of your ass like they have some kind of weight behind them when obviously they do not, because if they did they’d just fall out without you noticing, which they probably do.

    TL;DR – YOU ARE DUMB.

  47. baetown415 on February 22nd, 2010 1:12 pm

    1. Any reason why USSM format just freaked out on me?

    2. Any reasons why Hannahan hasn’t produced much in the power department?

  48. Joe C on February 22nd, 2010 1:41 pm

    I’d like to direct some of you to a rival blog that might be more your speed:

    http://ussmcrap.blogspot.com/

    I went over to the USSMCRAP site, scrolled down a little and saw that I was quoted and critiqued there. I’ll take that as a compliment that whoever wrote that had issues with my comment.

  49. Dayve on February 22nd, 2010 4:20 pm

    [troll]

  50. Jeff Nye on February 22nd, 2010 5:32 pm

    Hi!

    This meeting of the “we hate Dave” club is adjourned. Moderation to that effect starts now.

  51. msb on February 22nd, 2010 7:15 pm

    Goodness I’m behind times, I didn’t realize there was a new Pope.

    Just a thought. We are all here as guests– the authors of the site don’t have to put up a comment section after their articles. If they truly were worried about people exposing their infallibility, they wouldn’t invite discussion.

  52. Jeff Nye on February 22nd, 2010 7:31 pm

    Goodness I’m behind times, I didn’t realize there was a new Pope.

    Did you miss the white smoke coming from the chimney?

  53. msb on February 23rd, 2010 8:29 am

    Did you miss the white smoke coming from the chimney?

    I must have been distracted by Ichiro’s pants.

  54. Liam on February 23rd, 2010 9:50 am

    @shannondrayer
    First infield drill Lopez at third Figgins at second.

  55. ivan on February 23rd, 2010 1:05 pm

    If anything happens to Jack Wilson, I for one don’t want to see Josh Wilson back here. Or Chris Woodward. And if people worry that Hannahan can’t hit, the next option would be Oswaldo Navarro, who can hardly get the ball out of the infield.

    But I know of at least one SS out there who could be one hell of a backup, and a full time regular if need be, and that’s Khalil Greene, who is going through some psychological problems right now (social anxiety disorder, which is NOT some laughing matter), and according to latest reports, is likely to be cut loose by the Rangers. He signed for about half a mil there.

    The hugs in the Seattle clubhouse could be just what he needs. If he could go, Greene would be all the backup the Mariners needed.

    I’m guessing that the M’s don’t consider him an option, and that they think Hannahan would be just fine, and that’s OK with me. But Greene could be out there, and he would be a bargain at the price if he can play.

  56. MKT on February 23rd, 2010 2:53 pm

    I must have been distracted by Ichiro’s pants.

    Yow, he looks like a summer softball beer league guy in that photo (based on his clothes I mean; obviously he lacks the beer gut).

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