Bob Hansen – 1975 Topps

July 12, 2011

The (Almost) Last Pilot Draftee To Make It…

Maybe that’s why he looks a bit crazed in this shot. He survived the insanity of the early Brewers / Pilots. While Pilots draftees like Gorman Thomas and Jim Slaton were in the majors for a long time, Hansen was the last one of the 1969 draftees to debut in the bigs for the Brewers. It turns out that Hansen, drafted 21st, made it before the 5th round choice Gary Martz. Martz went 0-1 for the 1975 Royals.

I was just filing my recent 1975 card purchases from my tertiary LCS (I just bought $100 of 1972 cards from my secondary LCS and my primary LCS has my A&G box ordered for the big hoo-hah coming up). This card caught my attention so I had to dig.

Hansen was yet another Brewers player that hit home runs with a low batting average. But he didn’t whiff a tremendous amount and did walk a bit. He could remind one of Gorman Thomas without the defense and facial hair.

Hansen, in fact, was ahead of Stormin’ Gorman for a bit. Bob played in AAA from 1970 onward, while Thomas made AAA in 1973. But Gorman made the big leagues out of Spring Training in 1973 before being sent down to Evansville. Hansen was second on the 1973 Triplets with 13 home runs, while Thomas hit eight in 46 games.

In 1974, the Brewers moved their AAA team to Sacramento. That was a big deal.

The 1973 Triplets hit 100 home runs. The 1974 Solons hit 305! Of course, LF was just 268 feet from home plate thanks to shoehorning the team into a football stadium. Bill McNulty, who went 1-27 in the majors, hit 55 home runs that season. Thomas hit 51. Hansen hit five, but played just 18 games before being called up to the bigs for the rest of 1974.

I can’t tell why, though. Hansen was purely a first baseman. The Brewers had George Scott and Mike Hegan to man first. While Deron Johnson was a bust at DH, Bobby Mitchell had a decent year and he filled in most of the time. The OF besides John Briggs struggled but Hansen couldn’t help there.

But the card back says how Hansen was utilized.

He was the pinch hitting specialist for the Brewers. In this day-and-age, AL teams really have pinch hitting specialists, since they have just four bench players on a daily basis. But in 1974, the Brewers had basically nine pitchers on the staff.

As a pinch hitter, he hit .400 with a 1.025 OPS!

He hit .324 with a .832 OPS in late and close situations.

As a sub he had a .969 OPS; as a starter just a .524 OPS – and that was with a 3 for 3 performance in game two of a May 19 doubleheader.

So I looked up to see if his pinch hits were clutch.

Well:

With his late and close stats, it is a possibility that he was the elusive clutch player in 1974. He scored six runs and had seven RBI as a pinch hitter.

But were they ‘clutch’? Is getting an RBI in the 8th that made a 5-2 deficit 5-3 clutch if the score remains 5-3? Mind you, the Brewers weren’t so good, but still there were a lot of pinch hits in somewhat meaningless circumstances.

There was the pinch hit leading off the ninth on July 21 that started a 5-run rally that Milwaukee used to beat the White Sox 5-3. Of course, that hit was only important because Bahnsen and Forster imploded, with the latter giving up a grand slam to Tim Johnson (of all people).

Hansen singled in the winning run on September 17th against the Indians in the 8th as a pinch hitter.

On Sept. 23, he hit a pinch homer in the 8th that tied the game against the Indians.

But is a a triple before the triple before the game tying sac fly clutch?

Is a single in the late innings with the bases empty down by two really clutch?

It could be argued that any hit that extends the chain of offense clutch, but not in the Derek Jeter way. It could also be argued that any hit that isn’t with the “game on the line” a non-clutch hit.

Basically, Topps tried to sell Hansen as a clutch hitter.

The Brewers, though, thought so much of Hansen that he spent all of 1975 in Sacramento, while Stormin’ Gorman played 1975 up in the bigs.

So much for clutch.

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