h2h Corner ~ Keep, Trade or Drop: Tommy Hanson, Clayton Kershaw, Brett Anderson?

This is some loaded young pitching talent. They were sleepers last year, some (Brett Anderson) are major sleepers this year.

There are many, many things going for Clayton Kershaw: he pitches in the national league, has an awesome home park, is only 21, is a lefty, etc. Oh yeah, he just happened to pitch 171 innings last year and post a 2.79 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, while striking out 185 batters (all in line with his minor league track record). The only concern I can fabricate is some sort of sophomore slump. However, Kershaw did pitch 107 IPs in the majors in 2008, so he has logged 278 IPs over a couple of seasons. There simply isn’t a bad thing to say about him.

Tommy Hanson is quite an old fellow compared to Kershaw (he is 23). He only got to pitch 172 IPs last year, but they were glorious (2.89 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 116 Ks). He had a higher ERA than Kershaw but a lower WHIP, His strike-out rate was also a little lower, but that’s not why I’m keeping Kershaw over Hanson. Quite simply, there is a bit more of a track record in the 21-year old than there is with Hanson. No pitcher is a sure thing, but Kershaw is a smidge more of a sure thing than Hanson.

Brett Anderson has two things working against in a game like this: the American league and a worse 2009 than his compatriots. In 175 IPs, Anderson posted a 4.06 ERA, a 1.28 WHIP and 150 Ks. His ERA was a bit high for his WHIP, so that should be lower in 2010. In addition, I think there is room for his strike-out rate to rise (he Ked 243 batters in 225 minor league IPs). This is all by way of saying that the sleeper hype for Anderson is real and you shouldn’t scoff at him. You put him in the national league and his numbers might look a lot similar to Hanson’s.

Keep: Clayton Kershaw
Trade: Tommy Hanson
Drop: Brett Anderson


Reading this column guarantees that you will achieve fabulous wealth and success in your fantasy baseball league. That’s right, you guessed it: it’s time to debate Keep Trade or Drop (KTD).

While there are tons of player rankings available, they are all for 2010 and nothing more. So, if you are drafting in a start-up keeper league, how do you decide who to take? For example, if they’re both on the board, do you go for tried and true Carl Crawford, or do you roll the dice (but only barely) and select the slightly less proven Justin Upton. Read enough of these columns and you might just get your answer.

The KTD series focuses solely on giving keeper league advice. It poses the question: if you are in a keeper league, which player would you rather keep, which would you rather trade and which would you be forced to drop. Rarely is the decision easy to make, but it might just decide whether you compete and win your championship, not just this year, but for years down the road as well. It will also help you make a snap decision when three similar players are on the board and the clock is ticking.

If you want other KTDs, please let me know. Also, feel free to share your insights below or at my Twitter (@h2h_corner)/Facebook pages.

9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Evan on January 31, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    If it were me, I keep Kershaw and Hanson. they are both studs! But Kershaw does have the advantage of pitching in Dodgers Stadium


  2. Posted by Albert Lang on February 1, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    It’s odd — i’ve seen Kershaw go behind Hanson in a couple of expert drafts….i thought Kershaw was the clear favorite….

    Anyone else have thoughts?


  3. Posted by James Chang on February 3, 2010 at 5:10 am

    I believe the reason Hanson is going before Kershaw in some drafts has everything to do with one simple fact–Hanson has much better control than Kershaw. Also, since Hanson spent the first two months of 2009 in triple-A his numbers last season actually look a little less impressive than they could and would if viewed in a full season context. If you combine his triple-A and major league stats from last season you get a 14 – 7 record with a 2.41 ERA, a 1.07 WHIP, and a 206-63 K/BB ratio in 32 total starts and 194 innings pitched. Now that is one impressive season.

    That said, I’ve got to agree with you Albert that Kershaw is the clear favorite here. He has a full season of major league experience on Hanson despite being a year and a half younger. Also, I’m sure almost everybody agrees Kershaw’s ceiling is higher than Hanson’s. Hell, Kershaw’s ceiling is probably higher than anybody’s.

    Tommy Hanson is an excellent pitcher with a very bright future in front of him. I expect him to regress some in 2010, however, for the simple reason that it’s really hard to keep your ERA below 3.00 no matter who you are. Not to mention the National League will start making adjustments. I’m not saying I expect Hanson to flounder in 2010 (anything but); all I’m saying is that I will be very surprised if Tommy Hanson pitches better in 2010 than he did in 2009. I would be genuinely shocked if Tommy Hanson won the Cy Young award this season. It wouldn’t shock me in the least if Kershaw won it.


  4. Posted by James Chang on February 3, 2010 at 5:32 am

    I hasten to add that I do not expect Kershaw to win the Cy Young this season. He has to conquer his control problems first. Kershaw walked 91 batters in only 171 innings pitched last season. Kershaw was only 8 – 8 last season in 30 starts despite an excellent 2.79 ERA and over a strikeout an inning. Anybody notice he had only 16 decisions in 30 starts? His teammate Chad Billingsley, for comparison, had decisions in 23 of his 32 starts.

    We all know why Kershaw’s decision percentage is so low–his pitch counts (and sometimes just a loss of command) force him out of the game too early and too often to be involved the decision. It took Randy Johnson five full years before his walk rate was slightly better than league average, but we all know what happened once he turned that corner. I honestly don’t expect Kershaw to have such an epiphany at the age of 22, but if he does, I think we will all be blown away.


  5. Posted by Albert Lang on February 3, 2010 at 11:09 am

    James – i think your analysis went even a little deeper than mine. I do tend to discount Kershaw’s wildness and inability to stay late in games because i don’t typically worry about wins…they appear, they vanish, who knows why they come.

    So i look at solid ratios (which kershaw has, even with his walk rate) and Ks. Like you said, when Kershaw puts it all together watch out. Also like you said, Kershaw has the track record of success in the majors and is younger than Hanson, which gives him the nod.

    I’m pretty bullish on kershaw, as apparently you are.

    thanks for the thoughts.


  6. Posted by Ben Crossett on March 29, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    Tough to argue with the hard truth. Other figures that favor Kershaw are the fact that he statistically had two of the best pitches in baseball last year. Those being his mid 90’s heater which he can throw in a variety of ways and that devastating curveball. As he matures and commands those pitches better, he’ll certainly be able to up the k/9 into elite territory. Also, if the changeup continues to develop he may end up possessing the most complete arsenal in all of pro baseball. I really like that Kershaw doesn’t throw a slider and feel that having three plus pitches that don’t torque the elbow too much favor him in the future as well as now.

    With that being said, Hanson is a bull. At this stage, I feel like Hanson is on the fringe of being an elite pitcher himself. Here’s why.

    With Hanson, what you’re getting is superb command, a variation of pitches from numerous arm slots and the ability to flat out pitch. Kershaw is simply a stuff pitcher, Hanson is a pitcher with stuff. To say that Hanson won’t out perform Kershaw this year wouldn’t be a stretch but I would tend to favor Kershaw in this debate as well.

    Finally, the lost boy. Brett Anderson. As Anderson gets older, he can easily enter the territory of Kershaw and Hanson. For one, he was a 21 yr old rookie last season and certainly took his share of lumps early in the season. If you discount a couple fugly starts and look closely at the second half numbers it’s easy to see why he is so highly touted. Like Hanson he boasts a tight slider and a fastball that has been getting a few more clicks on it every year (this spring he has been clocked at 94-96). A jump into the high 190’s for k’s and a mid 3.00 era pitching in Oakland is conceivable. I expect Anderson to post a comparable stat line to that of Kershaw’s last year. Also, the history of Oakland pitchers in the past 10-15 years is tough to argue. While he may not necessarily get the longevity, the use and abuse will certainly favor his fantasy owners for the next few seasons.



  7. Posted by Albert Lang on March 30, 2010 at 7:50 am

    These are all very good points. It’s clear each pitcher presents a ton of upside and really the only way to delineate them is to split some hairs

    Let’s hope they all stay healthy so we can see them duke it out over the next 10 years.

    I’d back Kershaw, personally, but cant fault you for tapping Hanson.


  8. Posted by Andrew on April 1, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    My favorite article I’ve read all preseason. I kept Kershaw over Johan Santana in a keeper league, and no I don’t regret it. I’m a believer! Best pitcher of the coming decade!! The sky is the limit for Clayton Kershaw!!!


  9. Posted by Albert Lang on April 2, 2010 at 7:09 am

    I appreciate you reading, Andrew. And thanks for enjoying the article.

    I think i’d go Kershaw over Santana as well. Such immense upside. He is so young and clearly has the high points in his career left, whereas Santana might be on the downswing!


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