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San Francisco Giants: Who Should Win the Willie Mac Award?

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 24: Hunter Pence #8 of the San Francisco Giants is congratulated by teammates after hitting a two run walk off double against the San Diego Padres during the eleventh inning at AT&T Park on June 24, 2018 in San Francisco, California. The San Francisco Giants defeated the San Diego Padres 3-2 in 11 innings. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JUNE 24: Hunter Pence #8 of the San Francisco Giants is congratulated by teammates after hitting a two run walk off double against the San Diego Padres during the eleventh inning at AT&T Park on June 24, 2018 in San Francisco, California. The San Francisco Giants defeated the San Diego Padres 3-2 in 11 innings. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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PHILADELPHIA, PA – MAY 10: Alen Hanson #19 of the San Francisco Giants celebrates after hitting a two-run home run in the second inning during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on May 10, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA – MAY 10: Alen Hanson #19 of the San Francisco Giants celebrates after hitting a two-run home run in the second inning during a game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on May 10, 2018 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)

Alen Hanson

Hanson was a huge surprise in 2018, and his bat forced his way into the lineup throughout the season.

The middle infielder was called up in April to replace Joe Panik and while he wasn’t the defensive second baseman Panik was, his bat helped almost instantly.

Hanson being a switch hitter and being able to play in both the infield and outfield, became especially good as a pinch hitter.

Hanson, as a starter, has a .243/.259/.396 slashline on the season, but as a pinch hitter, he has a slashline of .360/.429/.680. That OPS of 1.109 made him a weapon at the end of games.

For Hanson’s flaws defensively and against left handed pitching, his strengths seemed to outweigh those struggles throughout the season.

The other skill Hanson has is his speed. Like the time he scored from first on a bad pick-off throw.

Hanson’s speed has electrified the AT&T crowd on several other occasions and his ability to go from first to third, or as in the case above, first to home, has made the Giants faster, younger and more athletic.

For an aging team, Hanson has been a breath of fresh air that should translate into a roster spot beyond 2018. Whether he starts somewhere next year or not will be determined by his ability to improve on defense and against left handed pitching.

Winning the Willie Mac Award might be a long shot for the former amateur free agent, but long shots seem to be something Hanson thrives on. When people have doubted him or the Giants in 2018, Hanson has found a way to come through in those big moments.

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