Despite the way that it sounds, The Alex Hassan Fascination is not a progressive rock band from the 1970s, but rather, a condition that has been known to infect Red Sox front office personnel as well as at least one Over the Monster writer. Alex Hassan is a Red Sox minor-league player, a product of Quincy, Massachusetts and Duke University and he is -- arguably, at least -- fascinating.
Hassan was one of the final players the Red Sox protected from the Rule 5 draft, and to quote our headline, it was an "odd choice." The Red Sox had two players selected away from them in this year’s Rule 5, both relievers, in Ryan Pressly and Josh Fields. One could certainly argue that at least Fields was more worthy of a place on the 40-man roster if one were so inclined. Yet, the Red Sox front office chose Hassan. WEEI’s Alex Speier, who has exhibited symptoms of AHF himself, explains:
"Hassan has one of the most advanced plate approaches of anyone in the Sox system. Though he’s shown limited power for now, the Sox believe that the corner outfielder has a chance to develop into some power later in his career (much as Kevin Youkilis did)."
Thus far, Alex Hassan has certainly shown a discerning eye at the plate. In 2010 he walked in 13.9 percent of his plate appearances in High-A. He matched that number again in 2011 at AA and then upped his walk rate to 14.5 percent with the move up to
As Speier notes, Hassan has shown limited power. Last season, in
There are plenty of people who doubt that Hassan will ever find more pop. Recently, Marc Normandin spoke with Mark Anderson of Baseball Prospect Nation and Baseball Prospectus and he summed up those doubts very well-
Hassan's ability to work counts and command the strike zone is impressive, but the rest of the profile just doesn't work for me at the big league level. He's not a center fielder, putting additional pressure on his bat. I don't see the pop coming. He has enough strength to drive the ball to the gaps but I don't see the swing producing much over-the-fence power.
If Speier is correct,
Without slugging much at all, Hassan produced a .388 wOBA at both High-A and AA. Last season at
While the image of the left fielder as a bruising slugger, a Manny Ramirez or a Cliff Floyd, might be engrained in our heads, it is not nearly as prevalent as it was when those two were patrolling the area in front of the Green Monster. Last season, left fielders were down to an average wRC+ of 103. In 2011, it was just 99. That is far below the high water mark of 110 in 2003. For one, teams have learned the value of better left field defense and players like Brett Gardner and (oh god) Carl Crawford, have replaced some of the lesser statue-with-gloves types. Other more insidious factors could be part of the decline as well, but the reasons are less important than the results. Left fielders are not the offensive behemoths they once were. They still hit for a little more power than the average player (by
The move from