BOSTON — If anyone should know what makes Andover High graduate Ryan Hanigan one of the major league’s top defensive catchers, it’s Homer Bailey.
Bailey, a Cincinnati Reds right-handed starting pitcher, has thrown two no-hitters — and Hanigan caught both.
“Part of it is being there on every pitch, having conviction every pitch,” Bailey said about Hanigan. “He knew that every pitch could be a big pitch. And I always appreciated that. Instead of a generic fastball down and away, he was still always thinking, ‘OK, we’re not out of this count.’ He never gave into guys.”
Hanigan posted some impressive catchers ERAs from 2010-13 while with Cincy. When he caught, Reds pitchers posted a 3.39 ERA in 2010, a 3.99 ERA in ‘11, a 3.04 ERA in ‘12 and a 3.42 ERA in ‘13. He also led the National League in caught stealing percentage the past two years: 48 percent in 2012 and 45 percent in ‘13.
The Reds traded Hanigan to Boston AL East rival Tampa Bay this past offseason and he signed a three-year deal with the Rays. He grew up in Andover as a Red Sox fan, but he now has the ability to become a Red Sox killer — not with his bat but his defense.
Just think about it. Over the past five years, Tampa has boasted one of the AL’s top pitching staffs. The Rays rank among baseball’s best organization at developing homegrown pitching talent. Add Hanigan, a pitcher’s dream, to the mix over there and the rest of the AL East better watch out.
“From my experience, the game’s winning and losing comes down to a few pitches during a few different at-bats at big points of the game,” Hanigan said. “A lot of times there’s different ways to get guys out. You’ve got to sync that up with what your pitcher can do, what the hitter is looking for and what the hitter can do.”