Red Reporter scoop on new Rays catcher Ryan Hanigan

Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE

Wick Terrell of Red Reporter was kind enough to provide his take on the Rays newest acquisition, catcher Ryan Hanigan. Be sure to read Reds fans reactions, and we'll keep you in the loop on the other pieces (and teams), involved in the trade.

There's a cushy level of sentimentality that buffers any analysis of Ryan Hanigan I can give, so I'll warn you of that on the front end.  While I stand firmly behind the majority of advanced metrics in baseball today, there's a large part of me that's willing to throw them out the window when talking about Hanny despite the fact that many of them adore him the way most Reds fans have.

It's hard to imagine a franchise as well run as the Rays getting more introspective and analytic, but in acquiring Hanigan they just might have.  His ability to call games has been lauded by both members of the Reds organization (players and coaches alike) as well as by those few media members and analysts who have taken time to talk with him.  In that regard, he'll fit right in with Joe Maddon in the Rays dugout on days he's not catching, and he'll be a worthy extension of the Rays' braintrust behind the plate on days he's catching.  If you're the type to believe in catcher ERA (some do, some don't), you'll notice that pitchers have consistently had better results when throwing to him as opposed to other Reds' catchers during his stint in Cincinnati.  Causation, correllation, and what not, it's something that has pretty well proven itself over multiple seasons, so take what stock in it you choose.
Aside from calling games, Hanigan also carries a sterling reputation as a defensive catcher, routinely throwing out would-be base stealers at a rate much higher than league average.  FanGraphs rates his arm as above average, which I'd agree with, and his instincts tend to give him an advantage as well.

Offensively, he's one of those rare birds who actually walks more than he strikes out, and while he has certainly felt an OBP benefit from batting in front of the pitcher's spot in the order for most of his career, he's actually managed a better career OBP in the 7 spot in the order (.400) than in the 8 spot (.349).  His .382 OBP over more than 2200 minor league PA also helps support this, since he wasn't hitting in front of a pitcher during that time.  For his career, he's got the 2nd highest OBP of any catcher in Reds history (min. 1500 PAs), and getting on base is certainly his calling card considering he doesn't get much power on his fly balls.

Hanigan also just seems like a genuine good guy, if that matters to you.  He was underrecruited coming out of high school and ended up at Rollins College, where he starred, majored in philosophy, and somehow managed to not get drafted, either.  He spent a boatload of time doing his thing in the minors before finally getting a chance in the big leagues, and he's done exactly what should've been expected of him since.  It's fitting that he and Bronson Arroyo are set to both leave the Reds in the same offseason, since they formed one of the quirkiest, unlikely success stories in baseball over the last half decade:  a arm-angle changing soft-tosser and a no-pop, undrafted catcher shutting down offenses in one of the most homer-friendly ballparks in baseball.

The Rays will hope Hanigan's injured oblique (which he pulled trying to catch an errant Aroldis Chapman 103 mph fastball) and hand (I think it was a thumb injury, actually) will be healed and that he'll return to his pre-2013 self (2-ish fWAR, not freakish-low BABIP), and there's a good chance that'll happen.  While he's not young anymore, he should still have a few good years left in him, and acquiring him now is a perfect buy-low pickup.  
Put it this way:  we'll miss him, which means you've probably picked up a player you're going to enjoy.

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