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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Random Cubs Third Baseman of the Day: Dave Hansen

Name: Dave Andrew Hansen
Ht: 6'0'' Wt: 195
Bats: Left Throws: Right
Years as a Cub: 1997

How many people have Pinch Hitter listed as their primary position?

The 1997 Cubs. They of the 0-14 start, and final record of 68-94. Possibly the most abysmal Cubs team of my young lifetime, or at least a close second to the 2006 Cubs. Yes, I know they technically had a better record than the 1999, 2000, and 2002 Cubs, but the 0-14 start just sticks in the craw. I mentioned in the Kevin Orie article the controversy surrounding Manager Jim Riggleman's decision to start the rookie. The reason Riggleman was forced to start Orie? He had two other options. One was Jose K Hernandez. The other was Dave Hansen. Now one might look at Hansen's .311, 3 hr, 21 RBI, .429 OBP, .450 slugging line and say, hey, that looks good, why wasn't he starting to give Orie another year of seasoning? Well, if you look closer, you'll see that of his 90 games for the Cubs that year, 40 of them consisted of pinch-hitting appearances. Dave Hansen was a National League DH. Like Ryan Braun, even though Ryan doesn't realize it yet.

Dave's career consisted of 1230 games. 341 of those games he started. 341 of 1230. Thats means that Dave came off of the bench for 73 % of his career appearances. Jesus, even Jose Macias started half of the games he played in. I guess the moral of the story here is that Dave Hansen never played for Dusty Baker. What a way to miss the boat Dave. Spent all that time with the Dodgers and never bothered to try heading to San Fransisco. You could have asked about playing with Hank Aaron and found yourself starting 130 games a year.

So why is it a guy with a career .260 average and a career .360 OBP never could stick as a starter? In 1992, the only year of his career in which he was a full timer, Dave hit just .214 with a .286 OBP and a .299 slugging percentage. I won't drag out the kickball analogies again, but that's not good. So the Dodgers, and simultaneously all of baseball, gave up on the idea of Dave Hansen, Starter. Thus began the career of Dave Hansen, 10th man. In 13 seasons after 1992, he never made more than 43 starts in one year. In that time he developed into one of the "best" pinch hitters in major league history, with a career average of .234 as a pinch hitter, with 138 pinch hits, and a .348 OBP. The 138 pinch hits of Dave's career rank him sixth all time. Is that impressive? Not really. Look at #1. Esteemed company, Dave.

Anywho, back to the 1997 season. Orie goes down to AAA Iowa for most of May. Who gets the starts at 3rd base? Dave Hansen, who makes 38 starts, and 51 appearances there. Dave, proving that his awful rookie season on offense wasn't the only thing keeping him from being a starter at his "natural" position, makes 6 errors in those appearances for a miserable .922 fielding percentage. That ain't good. Orie comes back up to start June, and the Dave Hansen experience was no more.

After leaving the Cubs, Hansen went back to the Dodgers, then bounced around with the Padres and Mariners before retiring in 2005. He is currently the minor league hitting instructor for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Dave Hansen- Not as good as Lenny Harris or Kevin Orie. Ouch.

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