Mitch Haniger led off this offseason with a powerful message to fans in the Players Tribune, “We are going to end this f*cking drought.” A player that was involved in some of the most powerful moments imaginable down the stretch has the right to say things like that. This attitude is exactly what the Mariners need, and it helps that Haniger is right in the middle of it.
After missing more than half of the 2019 season, and the entire shortened 2020 season it was extremely tough to expect much from Mitch Haniger in 2021. He defied all odds, shattering through the 2021 projections, launching 21 more home runs than the Zips projections. Hanny will look to build on last season in many ways.
Mitch Haniger will be a huge key if the Mariners want to snap the playoff drought.
Zips projects Haniger with a .249/.319/.472 slash line, launching 31 home runs. His 2021 slash was .253/.318/.485 with 39 bombs. This is very close, and it means they see a lot of validity in his 2021 season and his ability to repeat.
Haniger developed and evolved in many different ways as a player in 2021. Last season that saw his defensive value fall off a cliff, ranking in just the 4th percentile of Outs Above Average according to baseball savant.
While he struggled defensively, his power numbers jumped tremendously. One look at his Baseball Savant page and you would be happy and confident that Mitch’s 2021 was real, ranking in the 65th percentile or above in Max Exit Velocity, Hard Hit %, xwOBA, xBA, xSLG, and Barrel %.
All of these are extremely telling metrics of a player’s productivity, and Haniger checks the box. He walked at just a 7.6% clip, down almost 3 percentage points from the year before, but he also dropped his K% by 4 percent according to Fangraphs.
We would love to see his walk rate get back up to 10%, but other than that we should not expect a ton of jumps. His Zips projection is right on the money for me, and we can reasonably expect Haniger to maintain his performance and develop consistency.
As long as Mitch can stay on the field, we should expect him to be a major contributor. After drastically changing his offseason workout program, Haniger looked as durable as ever in 2021. With the addition of Julio Rodriguez, Jarred Kelenic, and hopefully a healthy Kyle Lewis, he should be able to get more days off his feet as a DH in 2022 helping his durability.
Haniger was in the middle of just about every big moment down the stretch last season. Whether it was him kicking the teeth in on our friends from Oakland, slashing the Angels for 4 hits in the biggest game of the year, Haniger was a huge part of the surprising success Seattle had in 2021.
In a contract season and with expectations as high as ever, we will get to see Mitch Haniger right in the middle of a playoff run. He has emerged as a leader and the lifeblood of this Mariners team.
As Dave Sims once said, “They Build statues of players based on games like this.” If the Mariners make the playoffs in 2022 Mitch Haniger will likely be a huge reason why, and we may just have to build a statue of him.