Photo: Jon Wells
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
Mitch was already having a tough season before the Astros came to town in early June. Not only did Haniger go 1-for-the-four-game-series, dropping his batting average to a woeful .220, but in that last game he fouled a ball off his, er, breadbasket and landed on the injured list with an injury to make every dude cringe. Though it's funny to see various broadcasts and others find euphemisms like "lower body ailment," there's really nothing amusing about a ruptured testicle, and we of course wish Mitch a speedy recovery. He reports to be pain-free at this point, but is probably some time from resuming any baseball activity.
Mitch's troubles at the plate before all that ugliness were largely when facing right-hand pitching. Against lefties, his batting line is a respectable .263/.391/.526, but vs. right-handers he's at just .206/.290/.444. Most of his home runs are against righties (11), but he also has 61—sixty-one!—strikeouts against them.
Get well soon, Mitch, and when you get back, may you again find the form that made you an All-Star in 2018.
Somehow, Mitch Haniger leads the American League in runs scored. The "somehow" is from sheer volume of plate appearances—he leads the league in those as well, and he also heads the pack in outs made and is second to Kansas City's Jorge Soler in strikeous. Basically, he's had the good fortune to play nearly every day, bat near or at the top of the lineup, and be on a team that clubs a lot of homers. Because the on-base numbers are not impressive—his .323 OBP doesn't even put him in the league's top 50 for qualified batters, and he has been just dismal against right-handed pitching (.220/.282/.492). At no point last season did his OBP slip below .345.
Now, we all know that isn't going to last and that at some point Mitch will rebound; he's had slumps for a few weeks at a time before and this time it's in the early part of the season, so it looks worse than ones that come later in the year. He's still the cornerstone of the lineup and a model human being, and we're confident we'll see a Haniger hot streak bring things back to normal before long.
We doubt Mitch Haniger thought he’d be the face of the franchise this quickly. Of our top six players by WAR last season, we dealt or didn’t re-sign five of them (Segura, Canó, Díaz, Paxton, Cruz), leaving only Haniger—who was tops with 6.1. He just turned 28, too, making him a virtual vet on this team, so it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that it’s been less than three years since his Major League debut.
Is minor-league baseball a good way to see America? Haniger has been a Timber Rattler in Wisconsin, a Manatee in Florida, a Saguaro in Arizona, a Bay Bear in Alabama, and an Ace in Reno, Nevada. His first Major League hit, in his Major League debut, was an RBI triple off Noah Syndergaard. An inning later he added an RBI double. After showing promise in 2017, he delivered in a big way in 2018. Led the AL in outfield starts (156) and assists (12), and was top 10 in hits, RBIs, OPS, and bWAR. He made the All-Star team and finished 11th in AL MVP voting.
A Catholic school kid who married his high school sweetheart, he’s someone who walks the walk—spending time with and raising money for Seattle Children’s Hospital. His Twitter account is full of can-do retweets: “Criticism is worth more than compliments”; “To get to easy, you have to go through hard.” M’s GM Jerry DiPoto has said he’s the type of player you want your son to grow up to be.
Thank you @Mariners fans! I had a blast playing in front of you all year. We are looking forward to getting better and coming back stronger in 2019!— Mitch Haniger (@M_Hanny17) October 1, 2018