This guy had a .309 batting average with 10 home runs and 27 RBI’s at the end of April. Just taking a blind look at those numbers, you might think that those were put up by someone like Mike Trout or Kris Bryant.
Wrong, those came from Seattle Mariners’ right fielder Mitch Haniger. If he were in New York, LA or Boston, he would be on every billboard and in every commercial imaginable. But because he plays in Seattle, there are a lot of casual baseball fans who might have never even heard his name before.
Haniger has been a well-kept secret for the Mariners over the last two seasons after they acquired him and Jean Segura from the Arizona Diamondbacks. He was keeping pace with Aaron Judge and Andrew Benintendi during 2017’s AL Rookie of the Year race before two different DL stints put him down for the count, as he was only able to appear in 96 games. Haniger is currently batting .296 with 11 home runs and 36 RBI’s, and now has an even bigger opportunity to produce, as Robinson Cano’s injury and suspension has thrust him into the third spot in the order.
The Mariners, who are currently sitting in second place in the AL West at 28-19, are going to have to lean on Haniger a lot this year, as they have to get a monkey off their back. They currently are the not so proud owners of the record of the longest active postseason drought across all four major sports. Yeah, that’s right, the Cleveland Browns have been to the postseason more recently than the Mariners. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2001, when they set the MLB’s regular season record with 116 wins, and proceeded to get knocked out in the divisional round by the New York Yankees.
If Haniger can keep up what he’s been doing, he deserves serious All-Star consideration. But that’s not the ultimate goal for Haniger, he wants to break this postseason dry spell plaguing Seattle baseball. Maybe he can help bring some attention back to the team, who is currently sitting in the middle of the pack in attendance (the Mariners are seventh out of 15 in American League attendance) and in national coverage. The Mariners have a lot of talented pieces to be excited about, but none of them are bigger or more valuable than Mitch Haniger.