Over the past few seasons, Joel Hanrahan has anchored the Bucco bullpen. ”The Hammer,” as fans have called him, couldn’t make it as a starter with the Nationals, and was moved to the bullpen. He came to Pittsburgh alongside Lastings Milledge in a trade that sent Sean Burnett and Nyjer Morgan to DC in June of 2009, and became the the Pirates’ full-time closer in 2011. Hanrahan had a perfect save percentage for much of the year, went the All-Star Game, and finished the season with an ERA of 1.83 and 40 saves. The team really took off in 2012, and Hammer led one of the league’s best bullpens. Although he didn’t have quite as good of a season as 2011, he went to the ASG yet again and struck out the only batter he faced. His 36 saves were the 5th most in the NL, and he finished with 10.1 K/9 last year. He’s become a fan favorite at PNC Park, and the place really goes nuts when he gets within one strike of locking down a win for the Bucs. Over the last two years, you could pretty much guarantee the Pirates would win if they held the lead after eight innings, thanks in large part to Joel. Despite his success, many people have realized that he may be overvalued and the Pirates would be better off trading him and getting a team to overpay. Hanny’s career as a closer in Pittsburgh might not last much longer, but he’s definitely been a top closer in his time here.
Photo: Keith Allison/Creative Commons