A Tale of Two Pitchers

Brett Cecil
Tommy Hanson

A couple of games ago I watched Brett Cecil’s start against the Texas Rangers where he and some Jays relievers combined to almost squander an 11 run lead.  This shaky behaviour is not atypical of Cecil and it got me to thinking about a conversation I had with Kman not too long ago.  It went a little something like this:

Kman:  Calman, who would you rather have on your staff? Brett Cecil or (Braves prospect)  Tommy Hanson?

Callum: Good question.  Their minor league numbers are fairly similar. Hanson is a great pitcher but I think I would rather have Cecil just because he is a lefty.

Wow, does that look like a bad decision in hindsight.  Since then Hanson has been called up by the Atlanta Braves and has gone 9-3 with a 1.25 WHIP.  This has vaulted him (arguably) to the top of the heap in the NL Rookie of the Year race.  Meanwhile, Cecil has gone 6-3 (mostly due to run support) with a 5.42 ERA and a 1.64 WHIP.  Not so good.

Let’s look at their minor league #’s in 2008, which I described as “similar.”

Tommy Hansonhanson2008

Brett Cecilcecil2008

They have roughly the same #’s at mostly the same levels, with Cecil making a few starts at the AAA level while Hanson ended the season at AA.  Based on these statistics it is reasonable to assume that they will project to be similar major league pitchers, yes?  Let’s look at this year’s numbers, minor league and major league included.

Tommy Hansonhanson2009

Brett Cecilcecil2009

Both players began the season at the AAA level and this is where the differences are evident.  Though Cecil plays in the hitting-friendly Pacific Coast League,  I don’t think his inflated ERA numbers can be blame entirely on the league factor.  If you look at the K:BB ratios, Hanson’s improved significantly to almost 9:1 while Cecil’s floundered to 1.5:1. Not good. This tells me that Cecil is having trouble this season commanding his pitches.  When he got to the bigs, it improved slightly to 2:1 (HELLO Brad Arnsberg?) but hitters were hitting at a better clip than in the PCL at .306.  So, he was throwing more strikes but those strikes were being hit.

Why is Tommy Hanson thriving? Why is Brett Cecil floundering?  Is Cecil hurt? Can it be attributed solely to playing in the vicious AL East in the big boy league while Hanson is pitching in the AAAA National League?  Is Hanson just a far superior pitcher and this is a case of Cecil’s shortcomings being exposed at the higher levels? Is he fatigued from being a converted reliever?  Please let me know your thoughts known in the comment section and we can revisit these as their careers (hopefully) progress.  Will Brett Cecil fulfull his potential or are we doomed for more “Cecil Madness.”  Oh, and for all you Mr.X fans out there, below is Cecil and his newlywed wife.

Brett Cecil & Wife

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has written for Mopupduty.com since 2006. Follow Callum on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram

  • Well..Cecil pitch in the AL East and Hanson pitch in the NL East. Huge different. Although I agree, Hanson totally dominated the minor league. His K:BB is just insane.

  • If Hanson was in the AL East do you think he would have similar numbers to Cecil?

  • Mattt

    Mrballer beat me to it. Comparing the quality of opponents faced by Toronto vs the Braves, I do think that their numbers would be similar if facing the same level of competition…

  • I am going to have to respectfully disagree with Mrballer and Mattt. This season Hanson has faced his share of tough opponents, including the Yankees and Red Sox. In 11.1 IP combined vs Boston+NYY he 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA

  • @Callum: I think Hanson would post a somewhat similar number to Cecil, probably a bit better though. Maybe a 4.45 ERA instead of Cecil’s 5.42 ERA.

    @Kman: Hanson got lucky he didn’t give up a run when he played against the Yankees. Sure he got 0.00 ERA, but he pitched only 5.1 innings, gave up 4 hits and walked 5 (1.69 WHIP), while striking out 4.
    He sure pitched well against Boston.

    Cecil’s numbers against BOS and NYY are painful to see. Not so great against TB as well. http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/players/8455/splits;_ylt=AjDMWyD6snH9BcaLsMUNcGqFCLcF

    p.s. The part that’s in all caps is my main question (not yelling at you), in case you don’t feel like reading my whole post.

  • oh, also check out Brad Penny who recently moved back to the NL and pitched 8 scoreless innings against the Phillies.
    John Smoltz also pitched well for 2 games (vs. SDG and WAS) after he got traded back to the NL. He pitched ok last night vs. MIL.