Despite being 27 years old, 2013 was the first time Donovan Hand pitched in the major leagues. He was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 14th round of the 2007 Amateur Draft and, even though he appeared on Reviewing the Brew’s top prospect list, he was ranked by only one person.
The last bullpen roster spot this season came down to Hand and Alfredo Figaro this season. The Brewers ultimately went with the latter, choosing power over finesse, but with injuries and an ever-changing starting rotation, Hand spent a lot of time with the Crew while making a few pit stops in Nashville.
Given that this was Hand’s first season in the bigs, it’s hard to judge him. We can only compare his 2013 performance with his previous minor league seasons and I hate doing that because the differences between the Major Leagues and Minor Leagues are monumental. That being said, Hand was one of the reasons why the bullpen was much improved from a year ago.
Hand appeared in 31 games which included seven starts. He put together an overall ERA of 3.69 – 4.17 as a starter and 3.13 as a reliever. However, his FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching), which measures what a player’s ERA should have looked like over a given time period, assuming that performance on balls in play were league average, was 5.01. The Brewers were not a good defensive team, but for whatever reason, they seemed to play better defense when Hand was on the mound. Maybe that was because he did a nice job keeping the ball on the ground; he allowed a whopping 103 ground balls but only 73 fly balls and 44 line drives.
The Alabama native boasted a 1.35 WHIP which is right around league average and his 4.87 K/9 was very impressive considering he’s just a middle reliever. But like many pitchers on the Brewers, he had a hard time keeping the ball in the park. In 68 innings, Hand gave up ten home runs. While that alone isn’t terrible, his 13.7% HR/FB ratio is considered awful by FanGraphs.com.
It was a successful rookie season for the right-hander and going forward, Hand should keep his spot in the bullpen. He won’t have a guaranteed roster spot but I don’t see anyone dethroning him in spring training.
Look at that. I made it through an entire post about Donovan Hand without using a pun. I deserve a hand.