Haniger is hitting .480 over his last 12 games, showing the same production as he did in April.
ARLINGTON, Texas — The first month of Mitch Haniger’s 2017 season had Mariners’ fans thinking that general manager Jerry Dipoto had gotten a steal of an everyday right fielder along with shortstop Jean Segura in the trade with the Diamondbacks that sent Taijuan Walker and Ketel Marte to Arizona.
But a severely strained oblique on April 25 presented a major obstacle that interrupted and cooled that torrid start, sidelining him for eight weeks. A 95-mph fastball to the mouth on July 29 also caused delays and issues for a hitter, who was already struggling.
Just about the time people were ready to write off Haniger’s start — a .342 batting average, 1.054 on-base plus slugging percentage, seven doubles, a triple, four homers and 16 RBI in his first 21 games before the injury — as an outlier in an otherwise mediocre season, the rookie right-fielder has come to life. Now in this final month of the season, he’s looking like the hitter fans saw in April, if not better.
In his last 12 games, starting on Aug. 30 in Baltimore after a few days off as a reset, Haniger is hitting .480 (24 for 50) with a 1.340 OPS, five doubles, a triple, four homers and 11 RBI. The 24 hits over that span are more than any other player in Major League Baseball.
“I feel good at the plate, rhythm and timing are good,” Haniger said. “Hitting is tough. One day you’ll look terrible and the next day you’ll look great. I’m just trying to build off the successes and take it one pitch at a time and one at-bat at a time. I’m able to do what I want at the plate now, and it feels good.”
In between the strong April and this strong finish, Haniger missed two months with the oblique strain and then returned, struggling to find that timing and rhythm. There was also the disabled list stint after wearing that Jacob deGrom fastball off his lips….