2012 Fantasy Baseball: A Closer Look at Joel Hanrahan

, Carlos Santana

Publish date:

I’m back from my one-week vacation to San Francisco, and with me comes the greatest column in the history of the world (according to the author, and most likely his mother).

Joel Hanrahan is not only an All-Star, but a Proven Closer © as well. Since 2010, he has been one of the best closers in baseball, and a great addition to any fantasy team (with this year being no different). 

A closer look into his performance so far in 2012 may show that he would be good to capitalize on now, as his underlying performance (he’s still getting saves, with a total of 22 this season) showing that he may be in for some rocky waters.

Hanrahan has struggled with two things this season more than he has in the past: walks and home runs. the concerning part about this is that he is struggling in two of the three areas that he directly controls. So far, he has continued to strike enough batters out to be able to mitigate the effects of his 4.91 BB/9 and 1.36 HR/9.

The most alarming statistic involving Hanrahan is that he has nearly doubled his fly-ball rate this season, going from 28.6% up to 51.9%. This may be because his fastball velocity is down to 95.9 mph, his lowest since 2009. In that season he posted a 4.78 ERA.

Even more alarmingly, he has given up fly-balls 57.1% of the time with runners on base, this coupled with his high HR/FB rate (12.5%), could lead to disastrous results.

During a time of year in which many people in both keeper and non-keeper leagues need saves, selling high in Hanrahan (who is also on a flukey Pittsburgh team) may be the right direction to move in.

Buy Low: Carlos Santana

Carlos Santana burst onto the fantasy radar of many people last season, after being known by many as the top prospect that was infamously traded for Casey Blake. He blossomed as a top fantasy catcher, hitting 27 HRs. This season, he has hit only five HRs, raising concerns among fantasy owners about Santana.

Santana has not shown a significant decrease in the amount of fly-balls he is hitting (35% this season as opposed to 40% last year), which means that his low 7.9% HR/FB rate should improve towards his 13.3% career rate. 

Looking at the pitches that Santana has seen, there has been no sign of pitchers making adjustments to him, as he has seen roughly the same amounts of each pitch that he normally would. I believe that his issue has come from a source that neither Santana nor opposing pitchers can control: weather.

This season, Cleveland’s home stadium has been the sixth hardest ballpark to hit a home run in, after being the 12th easiest to do so last season. I believe that the reason for Santana’s struggles have been the cold climate that Cleveland has. According to Weather.com, Cleveland’s temperatures peak in June, July and August. As studies have shown, warm weather is more conducive to HRs than cold, so this means that in all likelihood Cleveland should become more HR-friendly over the next month or so.

This means that over the next two months we should see Santana begin to hit the home runs that were oh so tantalizing to fantasy owners last season.

Written by Spencer Schneier, exclusively for TheFantasyFix.com. For more great fantasy baseball advice, give Spencer a follow on Twitter @BaseballSpencer.

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