Tommy Hanson’s Bandwagon by R.J. Anderson January 4, 2011 A question without a correct answer: Who is the National League’s version of Brett Anderson? The answer that felt right to me at the time of this writing: Tommy Hanson. As common readers of these web pages know, Anderson is a favorite of the sabermetric community. Brett does well for himself in the big leagues, too. He does the surname proud by boasting impressive strikeout-to-walk ratios, inducing large quantities of groundballs, and doing so without the benefit of fanfare. Such qualities are therefore required of a comparable pitcher. Hanson seems up for the task. The comparison is not perfect; Anderson gets more grounders, walks fewer, and has a harder time finding jeans. Hanson, though, is one of the most successful young pitchers in the majors. He notched is first 200-plus inning season last year at the tender age of 23. Since breaking onto the scene in 2009, here’s how he has stacked up with the Philadelphia four: Cliff Lee: 3.20 ERA, 2.86 FIP, 3.47 xFIP Roy Halladay: 2.61 ERA, 3.03 FIP, 2.98 xFIP Hanson: 3.16 ERA, 3.38 FIP, 4.03 xFIP Roy Oswalt: 3.38 ERA, 3.51 FIP, 3.65 xFIP Cole Hamels: 3.67 ERA, 3.69 FIP, 3.56 xFIP Depending on how much one buys in (or does not buy in) to the home run allowing and preventing ways of the bottom three names, then one could make the case that Hanson is the third best pitcher of the group. That sounds mediocre on the surface, but remember three things: 1) Hanson just completed his first full season; 2) the Phillies four figure to save the universe from galactic evils on a weekly basis; 3) two aren’t even men, but cyborgs. Why Hanson isn’t more popular is anyone’s guess, although playing in Atlanta probably has a lot to do with it. Consider this factoid: Hanson made seven starts after September 1 last season. Only two starters made seven appearances in those 32 days and had an ERA under 2. One was David Price (who saw one of his appearances come out of the bullpen). The other was Hanson. Young pitchers making big-time starts for teams fighting for a playoff berth usually ends in grandiose superlatives, yet Hanson received nary a Cy Young vote. Atlanta has perhaps the game’s most talented young outfielder and one of its finest starters. Those two are big reasons they’ll find themselves in the thick of the playoff race once again in 2011.