Mariners 2023 Report Cards: Sam Haggerty

Sam Haggerty has the potential to add some much-needed on-base ability to the Mariners lineup but with stiff competition at second base and in the outfield, his use was limited in 2023.
Seattle Mariners v Oakland Athletics
Seattle Mariners v Oakland Athletics / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

Sam Haggerty saw about half the gametime he did in 2022, accumulating just 108 plate appearances across 52 games. He primarily served as a designated hitter but had 49 innings at second base, 27 innings at first base, and 20 innings in the outfield.

Sam Haggerty earned a grade of B- for his 2023 season.

Haggerty's somewhat disappointing grade isn't entirely his fault. He was primarily utilized at second base in AAA and performed extremely well, slashing .324/.419/.578 with the Rainiers. Unfortunately, at the major league level, second base had quite a lengthy depth chart.

Kolten Wong was originally signed on to be the team's full-time starter but after a frighteningly steep regression, he was benched and designated for assignment at the trade deadline. To take his place, rookie Jose Caballero was called up in April and had a decent start, posting a .833 OPS in May but wasn't enough to hold down the role by himself. Fellow utility man Dylan Moore also found time at second base, pushing Haggerty all the way to fourth on the depth chart.

Nonetheless, let's focus on what he did accomplish. Haggerty's major-league OPS of .705 and OPS+ of 102 were slightly lower than his 2022 numbers of .738 and 116, mostly due to a slight dip in slugging percentage. His on-base percentage of .364 was actually the highest it's been in his career thus far and his Savant page is even more illustrative of his strengths.

He wasn't considered qualified by Statcast for any batting stats but a few numbers still managed to stand out. His plate discipline was great, striking out just 15.7% of the time, whiffing at a rate of 21.6% , and chasing 24.9% of pitches outside of the zone. His walk rate of 13.9% was almost as high as J.P. Crawford whose 14.7% rate was in the 96th percentile of all MLB players. The one stat for which he was qualified was his sprint speed, peeking at 29.2 feet/second (93rd percentile). With the re-emphasis on base-stealing, this could make him a major value-add.

Haggerty greatest offensive weakness was his lack of power at the major-league level. His numbers for stats like average exit velocity (85.9 mph), barrel % (1.3%), hard-hit %, (26.7%), and xSLG (.323) were all lower than ~90% of the league. This could actually be the product of not seeing high-level pitching on a consistent basis because he has demonstrated his ability to hit for power in AAA, so it's clearly there. He's also not the greatest fielder to put on a glove, accumulating -4 OAA and -2 DRS despite limited usage in the field.

Haggerty is arbitration eligible in 2024 and a free agent in 2027 but based on recent usage, the Mariners front office might be more likely to use him as a trade piece than as a regular starter.