When it comes to closers, the player who comes in to shut the door in the ninth inning, many think of Mariano Rivera of the New York Yankees, or Brad Lidge of the Philadelphia Phillies.
But when it comes to unheard of closers, Pittsburgh’s Joel Hanrahan is by far the most underrated stopper in all of baseball. Hanrahan was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the second round of the 2000 amateur draft. Following a standstill in LA, Hanrahan signed with the Washington Nationals in 2006, where he stumbled as a starter, compiling a combined record of 13-13. Three years later, Hanrahan was traded along with Lastings Milledge from Washington to the Steel City in exchange for Sean Burnett and Nyjer Morgan. Now, the 29-year old right-hander is a big reason why the Pirates are just four games out of first place in the National League Central Division.
Here’s my take on why Hanrahan is the most underrated closer in the game:
1) In 32 1/3 innings pitched, Hanrahan has allowed just six runs, five of which are earned. He’s given up just 25 hits, and has converted all 19 save opportunities for the Pirates.
2) His 29 strikeouts to just seven walks is astounding, and his 0.99 WHIP is remarkable. He simply gets the job done.
3) He owns a 1.39 ERA and opponents are hitting just .216 off him. The low batting average against along with his microscopic ERA makes him a dangerous weapon out of the Pirates bullpen.
Hanrahan is just one save behind league leader Brian Wilson of the World Champion San Francisco Giants. There’s no doubt in my mind that Hanrahan should be voted into the Mid-Summer Classic in Arizona come July. If he doesn’t, it’ll definitely be a head scratcher and will have many people thinking twice, including myself.
On the list of top closers in the game today, Hanrahan has emerged as one of the greats.