When you go through the list of most exciting things to happen as a Mariners fan, one of them doesn't even have to do with anything happening on the field. Okay, exciting might not be the right word, maybe emotional or firey would be a better way to put it. I'm talking about the letter that Mitch Haniger wrote back in 2021 after the Mariners missed the playoffs,
"We lost when it mattered most. We fell short of our goal — period... 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
I remember reading that when it came out, and I was ready to run through a wall if Mitch Haniger asked me to. That was a big reason why it hurt to see him leave, and why I was so excited to see him come back when they acquired him alongside Anthony DeSclafani when they sent Robbie Ray to the Giants.
Yeah, I know there are injury concerns, and it isn't something to take lightly. It's also easy to remember that Haniger had some great seasons for the Mariners. MVP votes in two different seasons, one with a 6+ WAR and the other with 39 homers.
STEAMER sees Mitch Haniger playing nearly a full season in 2024, which is easily the most surprising projection that I have seen so far from them. 126 games but 523 PA qualifies as a full season (I think you need 162*3.1 = 502 PA or more). They just don't see him being all that impactful, in large part to some bad defense.
That's one of the issues this coming year, is that it seems like you have a handful of guys who can only play a couple of positions, and would be better suited for 1B or DH (France, Garver, Haniger to start). When it comes to offense, they project out a .235/.303/.423 slash line with 22 HR and 21 2B, with an acceptable K rate (26.1%) and BB rate (7.8%). It does translate out to just a 102 WRC+, slightly above league average, but just that.
It would be the worst season he has ever had with the Mariners, posting prior WRC+ marks of 129, 137, 107, 120, and 113. His slash line average while on the Mariners sits a lot higher at .263/.337/.480. I don't know that we can expect that from an injury-riddled and aging Haniger, but I do think STEAMER is weighing his sole season in San Francisco much too heavily. Let's hope they're wrong.