Eric P. Mull-US PRESSWIRE
The plan was to have Lonnie Chisenhall take over third base from Hannahan towards the end of the 2012 season. That's kind of what happened, but in the meantime, the Indians were left with essentially a replacement-level player at third.
2012 Age: 32
2012 oWAR (B-Ref): 0.7
2012 dWAR (B-Ref): 0.3
2012 WAR (Fangraphs): 0.1
2012 UZR (Fangraphs): -3.9
2012 Salary: $1.135 (Arbitration)
2013 Contract Status: Arbitration (4.065 Service Time)
I've included a couple other value measures to show that Hannahan's defense has declined in recent years. Which is rather normal, as Hannahan is getting into his mid-30s, and even defensive wizards lose a step as they reach that age. I don't believe we reached the point where one defensive statistic can be taken as even 95% reliable in all cases, so I try to look at as many defensive stats as possible to figure out if a player is good, bad, or average in the field.
UZR: Hannahan from 2008-2011 average a +8.97 UZR, pegging him as an outstanding defender. This year, his UZR dropped dramatically from 8.7 in 2011 to -3.9 in 2012. What happened? Was this bad number simply a sample size issue, did shifts have anything to do with it, or did Hannahan simply fall off the proverbial cliff due to either injury or age?
BIS Defensive Runs Saved Above Average (BIS): This showed that Hannahan was 15 runs above average in 2008, then 6 runs above average in 2009, 2010, and 2011, and just 2 runs above average in 2012. Hannahan played fewer innings in 2012 than 2011, so perhaps that had something to do with the decline here.
Total Zone Fielding Runs Above Average (Baseball Projection): This didn't show any real trends: Hannahan's Rtot from 2008-2012 was 7, 2, 4, 8, and 4.
Defensive WAR (B-Ref): This follows the decline trend as UZR and Defensive Runs Saved: +1.9 wins in 2008, then 0.7 in 2009, 0.5 in 2010, 0.9 in 2011, and 0.3 in 2012
Based on these, I'm not ready to write Jack Hannahan completely off, but at the same time, I believe his days as an elite defender at third are likely done. Usually a player's defensive peak comes early in his career, and we got glimpses of that in Hannahan's age 28 season in Oakland. But unfortunately he didn't have the bat to go with the glove, and that's dogged him his entire career. He's had chances since 2007 in four different organizations (Detroit, Oakland, Seattle, and Cleveland), each thinking that any kind of offensive production could make Hannahan one of most valuable third basemen in the league. But other than a couple of hot streaks in 2011, Hannahan has hasn't been able to put it together.
The Indians are going to go with Lonnie Chisenhall at third base next season, and with Hannahan arbitration-eligible, it's likely that they'll non-tender him this December. It's really hard to justify keeping a left-handed third baseman on the same roster as another left-handed third baseman, and the Indians have better players on their roster currently if they're looking for utility infielders.