Thursday, January 27, 2011

Clayton Kershaw Versus Tommy Hanson

A while back, there was some positive response to a post in this space comparing Ryan Zimmerman and Evan Longoria. Most think Longoria is better, but this writer's conclusion is a wash. Today, let's compare two highly touted, yet almost anonymous young starters, both of whom get little press and less fanfare. When thinking about why so little is written about Tommy Hanson and Clayton Kershaw, the lingering feeling is that neither has had a spectacular game or a series of spectacular games. Neither has racked up significant won/loss records. But make no mistake about it, these two pitchers are among the best and brightest in the land. But which one is better? The Fan will post, you decide.

First the traditional stats:

Age - Kershaw is only 22! Hanson is 24
Dimensions - Hanson is 6'6" and weighs 220. Kershaw is 6'3" and weighs 217.
Record - Kershaw: 26-23 in 85 appearances. Hanson: 21-15 in 55 appearances
ERA - Kershaw: 3.17. Hanson: 3.16  Wow, that's close.
Each have thrown one complete game.

Now for some more detailed stats:

WHIP - Hanson: 1.18. Kershaw: 1.27
K/9 - Kershaw: 9.26. Hanson: 7.87
BB/9 - Hanson: 2.78. Kershaw: 4.17
K/BB - Hanson: 2.83. Kershaw: 2.20
Hits/9 - Kershaw: 7.23. Hanson: 7.81
HR/9 - Kershaw: 0.58. Hanson: 0.65
Innings per start (2010 only) - Hanson: 5.96. Kershaw: 6.38  Bet this one surprised you.
xFIP - Kershaw 3.87. Hanson: 4.03
WAR (2010) - Hanson: 4.3, Kershaw: 4.8

Let's look at some batted ball stats and pitch values:

Line Drive Percentage - Kershaw: 18.9 percent. Hanson: 17.2 percent.
Hanson gives up an equal number of fly balls to ground balls. Kershaw throws two percent more ground balls than fly balls.
Fastball (2010 only) - Kershaw: 16.9. Hanson: 15.8
Slider (2010 only) - Hanson: 11.5. Kershaw: 18.1
Curve (2010 only) - Kershaw: -1.9. Hanson: -1.2
Change (2010 only) - Hanson: 0.6. Kershaw: -1.3
Total value of all pitches in 2010: Kershaw: 31.8. Hanson: 26.7
WPA (2010) - Kershaw: 3.25, Hanson: 0.77

Other stuff: Kershaw has made one error in the last two years, Hanson has made five. Hanson has a lifetime batting average of .081 and Kershaw's is .078. Let's say that their batting equally sucks.

Toe be sure, there is probably a lot more you can look at when comparing these two pitchers. Kershaw's age gives him a two year advantage on Hanson but Kershaw's actually gotten more service time in the majors. Both are terrific and deserve more love from the mainstream press. Not sure why neither gets a lot of wins in their starts, but perhaps that will change in 2011. No matter who you decide is better, the Fan wouldn't cry to have either one of them on his team.

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