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Forgotten Royals: Jed Hansen

When I was performing the extensive research needed to complete last week's Carlos Febles post, I noticed the name of Jed Hansen. Hansen played for the Royals from 1997 to 1999 and I had absolutely no memory of him. Now, I'm no modern day Diedrich Knickerbocker, but when you've written loving profiles of Scott Pose and Joe Vitiello and their like, you expect some things of yourself. Had absolutely no recollection of Hansen however.

Hansen was our prodigal. Or, perhaps he was that on-again-off-again, flame. The Royals parted ways with him twice, only to bring him back. There was a spark of magic, some early years of promise, and a name spelled with an "e" instead of an "o." There were memories, I just never had them.

  • Hansen was a 2nd round pick out of Stanford in 1994. Only one Major Leaguer of any note was taken in that round, but he was a big one: Troy Glaus, who was taken 14 spots ahead of Hansen. In the first round the Royals took Matt Smith, one of the bigger busts the team selected in the 1990s. The Royals' best selection that year was Jose Rosado, who was taken in the 12th round. That is, unless Matt Treanor EXPLODES next season.
  • Hansen never really had a strong minor league season, though for a second baseman he wasn't bad in 1996, when he hit 12 homers and slugged .462. In 1998, when he couldn't earn a spot on the Royals as a 25 year old, he slugged .472 with a .347 OBP in Omaha, which also wasn't bad.
  • His moment of glory was his August-September debut in 1997. In 34 games (111 PAs) he hit .309/.394/.426. You'll notice the batting average and walks, along with some decent power (6 2Bs, 1 3B and 1 HR, off of Luis Andujar of Toronto). After 13 games Hansen was hitting .381/.449/.595. He didn't quite collapse after that, but it's plain enough that he was holding on. He rebounded with a strong final week of the season, pulling his batting average up from the .280s depths.
  • But it wasn't enough. If there was a Spring Training battle the next year, I similarly don't recall it (obviously). In 1998, the Royals stuck with Jose Offerman as the primary 2B, and carried a truly 1990s assortment of middle infielders and utility players instead of Hansen, who appeared in just 4 games. Shane Mack, Shane Halter, Terry Pendleton, Luis Rivera, Felix Martinez, and Jeremy Giambi all made appearnces on what was a truly weird roster. (Jeff King, Jeff Conine, Sal Fasano, Hal Morris... ) Hansen made the Opening Day roster, appeared in a handful of games in early April and then disappears from the Major League game log. The Royals sent him to Omaha in favor of Danny Rios, and there he would stay.
  • In 1999 Hansen was passed by Febles on the organizational depth chart. There's a June 27, 1999 story from the Star titled "Faith helps ROyals' Hansen maintain perspective in tough times" and I'm sure it did. Hansen appeared in 47 games (career high) but was mostly a sub, accumulating just 94 PAs. In this disparate role, he hit only .203/.289/.329. In October he was waived, setting off a long journeyman phase of his career, but he would never see the Majors again.
  • On September 22, 1999 Hansen replaced Joe Randa in the 7th inning of a 12-1 game. (Royals winning actually.) In the top of the 8th, he struck out swinging against S. Sinclair, who struck out the side (Pose, Sweeney, Hansen).
  • Hansen kept playing through the 2006 season, appearing in 1326 minor league games total. In a weird twist, he left and returned to the Royals twice. After stints in the Padres, Mets, and Reds organizations, he signed a minor league deal with the Royals in 2001. Then after touring with the Brewers and Cardinals in 2002-2003, he ended back up in the KC organization, where he stayed through 2004. In all his ups and downs and comings and goings, he spent nearly 6 full seasons in Omaha.