meetch

#17

RF/CF

Mitch Haniger

Mitchell Evan Haniger

Height: 6'2"    Weight: 210 lbs.

Bats/Throws: Right / Right

Born: 12/23/1990 in Mountain View, California

Offseason home: Santa Cruz, California

College: Cal Poly SLO

Nickname: "Meetch"

Family: Wife Amanda, daughter Karly

MLB Debut: 08/16/2016

Acquired: In trade from the Arizona Diamondbacks, with Jean Segura and Zac Curtis, for Taijuan Walker and Ketel Marte (11/23/2016)

Free Agent after: 2022 season

Awards: All-Star (2018), AL Player of the Week (7/18/21)

Twitter handle: @M_Hanny17

You have to wonder what Mitch Haniger did in a past life to deserve the kind of karma he's been dealing with in recent years. After missing a year and a half to injuries (2019-2020), he returned to have a big year in ’21, but 2022? He's played just nine games. After the first eight games of the season he came down with COVID-19, which while not a severe case did lay him out for a while and the Mariners were cautious about bringing him back before he'd built his strength back up. When they ultimately did, his return lasted one at-bat. He got a hit, but the run to first base was painful as he'd sprained his ankle on the prior swing. The sprain is severe enough that Mitch isn't expected to be ready to play again until after the All-Star break. The upside to that, perhaps, is that there won't be any talk of parting ways with Mitch before the trading deadline; instead, he may serve as a late-season addition to the M's for the stretch run. Time will tell.

TH, 6/7/22

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Prior notes

It's unusual for a 90-win club to get that far without anyone slugging .500, but that was Your Seattle Mariners in 2021. Mitch led last year's M's in that category at .485 thanks to a career-high 39 homers, but that newfound power came at the expense of plate discipline—not counting 2019, which was a painful year for Haniger in more ways than one that saw him play less than 40% of the schedule, the 2012 first-round draft selection has always been a high-on-base-percentage guy with season marks of .350+ in both the Majors and minors. Not so last year, when he barely cracked the .300 OBP threshold. Was it fair trade? Maybe; he did drive in 100 runs, second on the club to the now-retired Kyle Seager's 101, and given the paucity of other Mariner batters' ability to get-’em-on-and-get-’em-over (the M's were dead last in the AL in team batting) it may have been the correct approach for the circumstances. This year appears to be a different animal, though. With the added production and power in the lineup from newcomers Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suárez, the pressure isn't going to fall so heavily on Mitch and Ty France as it did last season. That being the case, Haniger can return to the disciplined line-drive approach that made him an All-Star in 2018—he can still rack up 100 RBI that way, maybe cut down on his sky-high strikeouts (169 a year ago), and be an even more valuable piece of the improved Seattle lineup. 

And it's a contract year for Mitch: 2022 will be his sixth year in the bigs, meaning free agency at the end of the season barring a contract extension. That's plenty of incentive to show his skills as a complete hitter, though he's indicated he has something other than the terms of his next deal on his mind. "I want to win [here]," Haniger said on a radio interview this spring. "Free agency is looming and I hope this is the year we get to the playoffs and we win a World Series." Mitch can read the tea leaves, he knows the M's have a glut of young outfielders just up or on their way to the Show. Once Julio Rodríguez stakes his claim, will there be room to keep Haniger beyond this season? Jarred Kelenic is still thought of as a can't-miss future star despite last year's struggles, Kyle Lewis wants to build on his successful rookie season of 2020 if he can stay off the injured list, and of course Winker is now an everyday fixture. This might be Haniger's last chance as a Mariner. If so, let's hope the team gives him a proper sendoff, complete with a World Series championship ring.

TH, 3/30/22