by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
There was a lot of hype surrounding Mitch Haniger entering 2017, though injuries helped to limit him to 96 games in the Majors. Considering those limitations there was no chance that his production would live up to the expectations, though when he was on the field he put up strong numbers:
369 At Bats
.282 Batting Average (104 Hits)
16 Home Runs
5 Stolen Bases
.352 On Base Percentage
.491 Slugging Percentage
.338 Batting Average on Balls in Play
Even with that production it’s possible that Haniger slides a bit under-the-radar. It’s important that you don’t overlook him, as the upside remains and he could easily be a force in a strong lineup.
Over the past two seasons he’s amassed 478 AB, and he’s looked good in the process:
- SwStr% – 8.9%
- O-Swing% – 24.1%
Opposing pitchers tried to make an adjustment last season, throwing him 59.06% hard pitches, though that clearly didn’t have a negative impact. We’d like to see a better line drive rate (19.3%), though it’s easy to argue that the missed time played a role. He was hitting the ball relatively hard (34.7%) and while his BABIP may regress a little bit there’s no reason to think that he can’t continue to hit .270+.
Let’s not forget that Haniger is only a year removed from a 30 HR campaign (split between Double-A, Triple-A and the Majors). He also added 25 doubles and 2 triples last season, showing the power potential overall. There was a split, which is something we should take note of:
- Home – .445 SLG
- Road – .535 SLG
While you can argue that Safeco Field isn’t the friendliest of ballparks, the 2.53 HR/game last season is average (American League ballparks averaged 2.63 HR/game). In other words all it would take is an improvement in his home production (12.0% HR/FB, compared to 19.6% on the road), and that’s not a stretch.
Maybe he’s not a 30+ HR hitter annually, but seeing him pop off that type of season wouldn’t be shocking.
He’s hardly a blazer, but he did steal 12 bases in the minors in ’16 and has the potential to swipe 8-12 annually. Considering the other skills, that simply boosts his value that much more.
.284 (156-550), 26 HR, 80 RBI, 85 R, 10 SB, .326 BABIP, .368 OBP, .491 SLG
Calling him a post-hype sleeper may be a stretch, since it’s not like he was a bad option when healthy last season. That said the missed time could cause his draft day appeal to decline, at least slightly, and that will open the door for the savvy owner to pounce. Haniger looks just as good as he did a year ago, and maybe even better now that he’s proven he can produce at the highest level. Keep a close eye on where he’s going in drafts/auctions and be ready to make the move.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, ESPN
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Projections: