2008 Chaska High School graduate and three-time major league All-Star Brad Hand was born in Minneapolis on March 20, 1990.
His senior season at Chaska, the 6-foot-3 lefty went 8-2 with two saves and a 0.61 ERA, allowing just six earned runs in 68 innings pitched. At the plate, he hit .352 with eight home runs and 24 RBI. That summer, he was drafted in the second round (52nd overall) by the Florida Marlins.
Hand made his major league debut on June 27, 2011 (age 21) in Miami versus Atlanta. He walked the first big league batter he faced, Jordan Schafer (who would play for the Twins in 2014 and ‘15). He struck out his second batter—Adrian Gonzalez. Hand would allow only one hit over six innings. That one hit, however, was a solo home run by Adrian Gonzalez leading off the fourth in an eventual 1-0 Atlanta win.
Hand’s first major league win came in his fifth start, on July 7 at home versus Houston as he held the Astros scoreless on two hits and three walks over seven innings in a 5-0 victory.
Hand only pitched in one major league game in 2012, giving up seven runs on six hits and six walks in the first 3 ⅔ innings of a doubleheader in Washington on August 3. He appeared in only seven games in 2013. He pitched in a combined 70 games between 2014 and ’15 with mediocre results.
Then, during the first week of the 2016 season, Hand was claimed off waivers by the Padres. That season, he led the majors with 82 appearances, posting a 2.92 ERA and 1.108 WHIP. (Personally, I think being able to say you pitched in more major league baseball games in a particular season than anyone else is a pretty fun fact.)
He was even better in 2017, posting a 2.16 ERA, 0.933 WHIP, earning 21 saves, and making his first All-Star team. He also made his first two career appearances versus the Minnesota Twins in 2017, pitching 2 1/3 perfect innings. He pitched a 1-2-3 ninth, striking out Miguel Sano and Joe Mauer to save a 3-0 Padres win in San Diego on August 1. He got the last out of the eighth and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth at Target Field on September 13, but the Twins won on an Eddie Rosario walk-off home run in the tenth.
As a batter, Hand has five major league hits, all with the Marlins, including hits off All-Stars Johnny Cueto and Stephen Strasburg. I’m sure he’d want me to mention that he did hit three home runs as a minor leaguer.
***NOTE*** I haven’t really updated this blog post since 2017. Obviously Hand has developed into one of the best relievers in baseball over the past few years. He led the majors with 16 saves during the abbreviated 2020 season, and signed a one-year, $10.5 million contract with the Washington Nationals prior to the 2021 season.