Could former Mariners All-Star regain old self with healthy 2024 season?

The Mariners lineup looks drastically different than it did in 2023. Could this Mariners outfielder stay healthy and return to his prior All-Star level of play?

Division Series - Houston Astros v Seattle Mariners - Game Three
Division Series - Houston Astros v Seattle Mariners - Game Three / Steph Chambers/GettyImages

Baseball can play with your emotions, on and off the field. There are few things that anyone involved with the Mariners has put out into the ether that have gotten me more fired up than the piece that Mitch Haniger wrote for the Players Tribune.

"And I need every Mariners fan to know that... But I also need them to know something else: This group is going to the playoffs. That’s not an if… it’s a when. And that when is soon...We’re going to end this f*cking drought."

Mitch Haniger

After writing the piece in October of 2021 after the sad end to the season, Hanny wrote that piece. It ended up coming true, and the Mariners would make the playoffs in 2022. From Fire and Hope to Elation and Pride, things felt so positive and uplifting even after losing in the playoffs.

Oh, how fast things can change.

Mitch Haniger left in Free Agency, as the Mariners didn't want to pay the 3YR/$43.5M deal that he got from the Giants. He would've stayed if they matched. He loves Seattle. He even kept his house so that current Mariners could stay there even while he played in the Bay Area. The Mariners missed the playoffs, and in one year fans were back in the dumps. Not like they were in the doldrums of the late 00s and early-to-mid 10s, but it wasn't fun.

I mentioned it multiple times... things change fast.

As we are set to kick off the 2024 season, a familiar face is back in the outfield for the Mariners, non-other than Mitch Haniger himself. You know, the entire purpose of this article. There is definitely a worry surrounding him when it comes to health. Haniger has been oft injured, from random unexpected ones (we do not mention those as men, even the thought is cringe inducing) to the more normal ankle sprains and pulled muscles.

A healthy Mitch Haniger may be a lot to ask for. It still seems like something that could happen. Hanny has also put in a lot of work and focus in the off season to prepare and get his body in the best shape possible. I'm not asking for or predicting a return to the 2018 season. A .285/.366/.493 with 26 HR, 90 R, and 93 RBI would be incredible, obviously. Instead, I want something closer to 2021.

Hanny has true power. He can hit through the Marine layer, as evidenced by the 39 HR season he had that tied him for 15th most in a single season by any Mariners player. If Hanny plays 130 games with a HR rate around 5%, he will end up with 25-30 homers. League average defense, a .255/.325/.460 with 25 homers and a 25% strikeout rate would be improvement rates in every aspect for the Mariners in right field in 2024.

That's the type of All-Star level return that we could see from Haniger if he can stay healthy while still getting a game off every week or so. Mitch Haniger has some work to do to get there. Between his work ethic, attitude, and effort, it's all about staying healthy. If he does, the Mariners have an upgrade to their outfield over last season.