San Francisco Giants: Alen Hanson is a Great Bad Baserunner
Alen Hanson has been a shot in the arm for the San Francisco Giants this year. With his speed and timely hitting, he’s proven to be a more than sufficient fill-in for oft-injured Joe Panik.
Just recently, Alen Hanson ignited some electricity on the base paths that have gotten rallies started for the sluggish San Francisco Giants offense. However, that doesn’t mean they were smart moves.
Take the series finale against the Cardinals for example. In the bottom of the fifth, after Pablo Sandoval crushed a three-run homer to give the Giants the lead, Hanson does something idiotic on the base path. The title for that video is “Hanson’s heads-up baserunning” which I hope is sarcasm.
Hanson is on first with one out and Gorkys Hernandez hits a semi-slow ground ball slightly towards the hole between short and third that forces the shortstop to charge it due to Hernandez’s speed. It’s a pretty routine play, and one where most baserunners would stop at second. Not Hanson.
He doesn’t even stop rounding second. Immediately, he takes off towards third knowing that there’s a 99% chance Hernandez will be out at first. If he’s thrown out at third he’ll have made the third out at third, which, of course, is a cardinal sin of base running.
Luckily for him, the first baseman’s throw was slightly high and off-line allowing him to slide in safely under the tag. But that doesn’t excuse the poor base running. I might be wrong, but I think you can even see third base coach Ron Wotus shake his head slightly after Hanson slides into third.
It was bad baseball mainly for the reason that there is so much risk compared to so little reward in taking third base in that situation. Even if he’s on second with two outs, with his speed there’s still a high probability that he’s gonna score on something hit to the outfield.
The only thing I can think of to justify his risk is the fact that the pitcher was on deck in the form of Madison Bumgarner. This doesn’t even completely excuse it due to the fact that Bumgarner is a good hitting pitcher.
Also, if he’d been thrown out, then the pitcher’s spot would’ve led off the next inning which managers want to avoid at all costs. This is true especially later in games so they don’t have to burn a pinch hitter. It was just bad baseball on so many levels.
But he got away with it, and he got away with it again the next night against the Cubs. Down 1-0 in the bottom of the fifth (maybe it’s just something about this half inning), Hanson was able to score from first on a pickoff throw that got by Anthony Rizzo.
According to Alex Pavlovic, Wotus was waving Hanson in as he rounded third. However, Kuip clearly said he thought Hanson went on his own. This could’ve just been in the heat of the moment after an exhilarating play and Kuip missed Wotus giving Hanson the green light or perhaps Pavlovic was wrong.
Either way, it’s not smart base running or baseball. There was only one out and even though Hunter Pence, who’s obviously had his struggles this year, was at the plate with an 0-2 count, that’s still an incredible risk to take. If he’s gunned down at the plate, that’s an instant momentum killer when just a ground ball to one of the middle infielders could’ve scored him and tied the game on the next pitch.
Now, I understand how bad the Giants’ offense has been at times this year. One could make the argument that Hanson’s risk was necessary given the cold bats and the way Tony Hendricks was pitching. That doesn’t make it good baseball though.
In the end, all turned out well as the San Francisco Giants won the game. The two things that make up for poor base running decisions or questionable send-homes are speed and agility which Hanson has plenty of. These skills make Hanson the best bad baserunner I’ve ever seen.
Even though I shake my head at all the stupidity of that play (including the dumbness of Javier Baez baiting Hanson into going home) I still have to respect Hanson’s slide into the plate. The fact that he had the instinct to contort his body perfectly to avoid the tag is fun to watch and a brilliant showcase of his athleticism.
Next: San Francisco Giants Trade Gearrin and Jackson, call up Duggar and Black
Despite these instances of poor base running working out for him, I’m sure they’ll balance out with some boneheaded base running errors that may cost the San Francisco Giants a game in the future. But for now, I’ll stop being a crabby old man and just marvel at Hanson’s slide home for the next 30 minutes.