Pittsburgh Pirates: Revisiting Joel Hanrahan’s All-Star Seasons


Over the weekend we were lucky enough to interview Pittsburgh Pirates Triple-A pitching coach Joel Hanrahan. Today, we revisit his back-to-back National League All-Star seasons as a Pirate.

In 2011 and 2012, relief pitcher Joel Hanrahan was a National League All-Star with the Pittsburgh Pirates. At the time, he was one of the best closers in the NL and these All-Star berths were well deserved.

Hanrahan was acquired by the Pittsburgh Pirates from the Washington Nationals in July 2009. Hanrahan came to Pittsburgh along with outfielder Lastings Milledge in exchange for outfielder Nyjer Morgan and reliever Sean Burnett. Quickly, Hanrahan became a key cog in the Pirate bullpen.

After the Pittsburgh Pirates traded then closer Octavio Dotel to the Los Angeles Dodgers at the 2010 trade deadline, Hanrahan became the team’s closer. Thanks in large part to the 2010 Pirates finishing a woeful 57-105, he picked up just 5 saves after being named the closer.

In 2011, Hanrahan began to emerge as a top notch closer. Hanrahan posted a 1.83 ERa, 2.18 FIP, walked 5.8% of batters faced, and struck out 22.3% in 68.2 innings of work. He also recorded 40 saves on his way to the first of back-to-back NL All-Star selections.

2012 saw Hanrahan’s walk rate rise to a whopping 14.2%, but his strikeout rate also rose to 26.4%. This was a big reason why despite posting a 4.45 FIP, his ERA was just 2.72. Saving 36 games, Hanrahan was once again a member of the NL All-Star squad. In the 2012 Mid-Summer Classic, Hanrahan faced one batter and struck them out in a 8-0 NL victory.

Following the 2012 season, Hanrahan was traded by the Pittsburgh Pirates to the Boston Red Sox. Brock Holt joined Hanrahan in the trade, with the Pirates receiving pitcher Stolmy Pimentel and Mark Melancon, as well as outfielder Jerry Sands in return. Due to Melancon, this proved to be a great trade for the Pirates.

Due to shoulder issues, Hanrahan pitched 9 games for the Red Sox in 2013. These would prove to be the final 9 games of his MLB career.

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Since retirement, Hanrahan has found a successful career in coaching. But for two seasons, he was a National League All-Star with the Pirates, while also being one of the best closers in all of the MLB.