After the 2018 season, the Mariners pulled the trigger on deal after deal, leaving behind just scraps of a team filled with All-Stars. This decimation left Mitch Haniger as one of the final pieces remaining in Seattle. That 2018 team won 89 games, a mark the 2021 Mariners just surpassed. It only seems fitting the guy that has stuck around and endured so much over that time period has carried the Mariners to the verge of history.
As the Mariners entered their rebuild I always thought they needed to keep around a few valuable veterans to lead the new wave of success. Mitch Haniger was always the perfect guy to do that, and I always likened him to the Freddie Freeman of the rebuilding Braves. There is usually one or two players who must suffer and endure through struggles and turmoil, in this case, Mitch Haniger and Kyle Seager.
Mitch Haniger has endured many struggles, but his perseverance has paid off down the stretch for the Mariners.
Haniger however has been through much more than just the struggles of the Mariners franchise. Starting with a devastating foul ball, he went through a myriad of injuries including a ruptured testicle, adductor surgery, core muscle surgery, and back surgery to fix a herniated disc.
PlayAll of this kept him out of baseball in Seattle for over 22 months. This devastation never deterred the relentless former All-Star. Perseverance, new training methods, diet, and preparation helped Haniger return to form in a big way in 2021.
Slashing .255/..319/ .489 on the year, Haniger has been a massive bat in the middle of the lineup. Although his average and on-base have fallen, Haniger has shattered his home run and RBI career highs. Many of these have come at pivotal moments for the Mariners, He ranks 20th in all of major league baseball in Win Probability Added, and 21st in Fangraphs clutch metric (Kyle Seager and JP Crawford are both top 5).
His story could lead him to be the AL Comeback Player of the year, but he isn’t stopping there. After clubbing two home runs in a game against the A’s and collecting 5 RBIs in one of the best performances in Mariners history, Mitch Haniger wants to secure a playoff spot for the Seattle Mariners. His Instagram post late Thursday night says it all.
As the ball laced off Haniger’s bat to score the winning run in one of the gutsiest comebacks in Mariner history I couldn’t help but reflect. How incredible is it that a player who has been through this much has been able to perform THIS well on the big stage. He has 39 home runs and 100 RBI, and with one more homer will join Griffey, Buhner, Cruz, and A-Rod as the only Mariners to do so.
Mitch Haniger’s spectacular season deserves an extension in Seattle, as a pivotal part of one of the most fun core groups in baseball. An incredible season to this point can only get sweeter with a Sunday win and a little help on the east coast. Something tells me if the Mariners can pull this off, number 17 will be right in the middle of it.