Tommy Hanson And The Horrible, Terrible, Actually Kind Of Good Day

Another unfortunate event that occurred to Tommy on Wednesday: no desserts in the post-game spread.

I wonder if Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson woke up with gum in his hair yesterday morning before his start against the Marlins. After all, he gave up 3 doubles, 7 walks, and (most impressively) 7 stolen bases in just 5 innings of work.

Then again, you could also say that Hanson hit the jackpot, as his triple-7 stat line (7 strikeouts to go along with the 7 walks and 7 steals allowed) somehow resulted in only one run allowed... and an easy 7-1 win for the Braves.

As you might have guessed from those divergent statistics, Hanson's start was one of the most so-bad-it's-good games in baseball history. In fact, Hanson is the first pitcher since 1950 (when stolen-base-allowed totals for individual pitchers were first tracked) to record 7 or more walks, 7 or more strikeouts, and 7 or more steals allowed in a single outing. Only 5 times before yesterday had a pitcher managed even 6 of each:

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt Decision IP H R ER BB SO SB
1 Tommy Hanson 2012-07-25 ATL MIA W 7-1 GS-5, W 5.0 3 1 1 7 7 7
2 Randy Johnson 1992-08-05 SEA MIL L 1-8 GS-6, L 5.0 8 8 8 6 6 6

Matt Young 1992-04-12 BOS CLE L 1-2 CG 8, L 8.0 0 2 2 7 6 6

Randy Johnson 1990-05-22 SEA MIL L 2-3 GS-7, ND 7.0 2 2 2 6 9 6

Phil Niekro 1977-08-23 ATL PHI L 2-3 GS-8, L 8.0 6 3 3 7 13 6

Charlie Hough 1976-05-30 LAD CIN W 6-5 4-9f, W 5.2 2 0 0 7 6 6
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/25/2012.

So you have two Randy Johnson starts from his pre-dominant "Wild Randy" phase (he also hit a batter in both starts on the list), two starts from classic knuckleballers (Niekro and Hough), and perhaps the strangest no-hitter in history. In his 1992 start, Matt Young (not the former Brave, obviously) somehow not only gave up 2 runs in his no-hitter, he walked 7 and gave up 6 steals, too. Oh, and he took the loss.

Hanson's start puts him in the company of some of the greatest "effectively wild" pitchers of all time, which is strange because Hanson doesn't have particularly bad control (3.0 BB/9 career, and 3.4 BB/9 in 2012 before yesterday's game). At least the 7 steals allowed weren't all that surprising, given Hanson's notoriously slow pitching motion and the Marlins' ridiculous team speed.

Very few pitchers have matched Hanson's 7 walks and 7 steals in one game. His start marked only the 3rd time since 1950 that a pitcher had given up at least 7 of both. The other two starts? Johnson again, in 1989 (7 BB, 8 SB and 6 runs in 6.0 IP) and David Cone in 1992 (7 BB, 7 SB and 7 R in 6.2 IP). So Hanson's results were much better than his only two comparables. Also: those comparables had pretty good careers.

If you're wondering if it's rare to give up just 1 run while allowing 7 steals*, the answer is yes. In fact, it's only happened once before yesterday, when Padres batters stole 7 bases against the Expos' Santo Alcala but scored just 1 run in a 1977 game. Alcala walked "only" 4 men and went 7 innings.

* Holding the opponent to 1 run while walking 7+ is a lot more common; it's happened almost 500 times since 1950. This makes sense, as a walked batter is only on 1st base, while a runner who has stolen a base is in scoring position. And of course, steals are much rarer than walks these days.

Hanson was also just the 5th pitcher since 1950 to give up 7 or more steals in 5 innings or fewer of work:

Rk Player Date Tm Opp Rslt Decision IP H R ER BB SO SB
1 Hideo Nomo 1996-06-30 LAD COL L 15-16 GS-5, ND 5.0 9 9 5 4 9 9
2 Chris Young 2009-04-27 SDP COL L 7-12 GS-4, L 3.0 7 8 8 5 3 8
3 Tommy Hanson 2012-07-25 ATL MIA W 7-1 GS-5, W 5.0 3 1 1 7 7 7

Danny Darwin 1987-10-01 HOU ATL W 6-5 GS-5, ND 5.0 4 4 3 4 3 7

Renie Martin 1983-07-27 SFG STL L 6-7 GS-5, ND 5.0 5 3 2 5 2 7
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/25/2012.

It's no surprise to see Hideo Nomo atop this list. With his high-leg delivery, Nomo was one of the easiest pitchers ever to run against... Though 9 steals in 5 innings is a ton even against him. Perhaps even more impressive was Chris Young's 8 steals allowed in just 3 innings. That means that Young had nearly as many steals allowed (8) as outs recorded (9)!

I'm sure I could come up with a lot more junk stats related to Hanson's start, but I'll stop there. I'm sure you get the picture--this was one of the strangest stat lines in baseball history.

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