Mitchell Evan Haniger
Height: 6'2" Weight: 210
Bats/Throws: Right / Right
Born: 12/23/1990 in Mountain View, California
College: Cal Poly SLO
Family: Wife Amanda
Acquired: In trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks, with Jean Segura and Zac Curtis, for Taijuan Walker and Ketel Marte (11/23/2016)
MLB Debut: 08/16/2016
Free Agent after: 2022 season
Twitter handle: @M_Hanny17
Thank the injury gods he's healthy again. Despite tailing off after a hot start, falling from a .351/.371/.632 line in mid-April to .252/.299/.524 a month later, Haniger's been the best Seattle has to offer at bat, among the league leaders in homers, RBI, runs scored, and total bases. With the remainder of the lineup collectively trying to rise above the Mendoza Line, it's scary to think how bad the Mariner offense would look without Mitch. Fans and reporters alike have oft speculated about packaging Haniger in a trade given the apparent wealth of outfielders the M's have coming up the pipeline, but that way lies madness. At least in the short to mid-term, the guy you want to build around is not Kyle Lewis or even Jarred Kelenic, it's Mitch Haniger. Particularly on a team with so many rookies and second-year players, the experience of a guy like Mitch—an All-Star experienced with life in the Majors on the field and on the shelf—can be critically important for balance and as an example to the young guys, particularly all the young guys that never got any real time in Triple-A. Kyle Seager is likely gone next season, which would leave Haniger as the only position-player veteran among the everyday lineup. You've got to hang on to Mitch. Besides, he's too damn good to part with. That said, this is the Mariners, no one's idea of a brilliant franchise, and anything can happen. “Nobody is off-limits,” Haniger said during spring training. “I’ve been traded twice. I know how it works. I’m just happy to play baseball. That’s what I can control.”
Welcome back. The Mariners have been without Mitch Hangier for a year and a half thanks to some truly unpleasant injuries, all of which he is now fully recovered from. The long layoff was naturally frustrating for the former first-round draft selection (2012), but he willed himself through it. “You’ve got to just take it slow and focus on what you can control,” he said. “I had to surrender to: ‘I don’t know how long this is gonna take, but I know when I get back, I’m going to be 100% better than before.’” We're all hoping, of course, for at least a return to the form of 2017-18 that made Mitch an All-Star, but he was slumping in 2019 before getting hurt and there's no way to know if that half-season was a sign of things to come or not. We'll find out soon enough, though, with Mitch suiting up every day in right field. He's had himself a fine spring training and manager Scott Servais has called him Seattle's best player.
Haniger may find himself in the lineup as the leadoff man more often than not this season; the M's don't really have a prototypical one-hole hitter, so Mitch's on-base skill might make him the club's best fit in the role. He's done it before; for a stretch of 2018 he was exceptionally productive batting first, posting a line of .330/.388/.580 in 45 games batting leadoff.