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“That’s Amore!” The Mitch Haniger Files

Ah, yes, the Seattle Mariners. They’ve always been a team on paper that experts often pick to win the division. However, for one reason or another the seasons don’t pan out like predicted. Jack Zduriencik was the general manager of the Mariners for seven seasons. Eventually, the team decided to part ways with Zduriencik and start a new search for his replacement. After a successful stint with Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Dipoto left the team after a rift began over the use of analytics. On December 28, 2015 the Mariners hired Jerry Dipoto to be the team’s next General Manager. Dipoto wasted no time making necessary moves to build this organization into a playoff contender. This past off-season Dipoto traded RHP Taijuan Walker and SS Ketel Marte to the Arizona Diamondbacks for SS Jean Segura, LHP Zac Curtis, and a little known outfielder by the name of Mitch Haniger.

After spending five seasons in the minor leagues, Haniger showed the ability to hit the long ball, while producing a solid average and having a stolen base percentage of 76%. During his minor league seasons he slashed .290/.370/.490. He finally received his call, last season, with the Diamondbacks and hit five home runs in 109 at-bats. He struck out 25% of the time, but this isn’t out of the blue for players getting their first stint at the Major League level.

Upon arriving with the Mariners, Haniger won the starting right field job during Spring Training, and became a late-round target for many fantasy owners. His ADP (Yahoo: 243.1 ESPN: 260 Fantrax: 271.11) saw him available throughout drafts, as well as the waiver wire. Through the first two weeks, of the season, Haniger has slashed .294/.410/.588 with four home runs, 11 RBI, and two stolen bases. His .998 OPS sees him 27th in MLB, 13th in the AL, 9th among MLB OF, and 4th among AL OF. What’s made Haniger successful early on into the 2017 season? This week, I bring you “That’s Amore!” The Mitch Haniger Files.

Entering Monday, Haniger’s accumulated batted ball statistics of: 0.8 GB/FB, 20.0 Soft%, 42.9 Med%, 37.1 Hard% (56th in MLB), and has been a dead-pull hitter with a 54.3 Pull% (17th in MLB) and 47% of the pitches he’s seen have been fastballs. His MLB plate discipline statistics are: 20.0 O-Swing% (T-15th Lowest in MLB), 62.9 Z-Swing%, 39.8 Swing%, 55.6 O-Contact%, 89.0 Z-Contact%, and 80.0 Contact%. What do these numbers tell us? Looking at his slash line and OPS, Haniger has been extremely consistent at the plate. He’s owned a 31.3 strikeout percentage (16 in 51 at-bats), which is a bit higher than his 20.1% minor league career mark. He’s made solid contact in terms of Med% and Hard% which leads me to believe he squaring up the baseball. This can be directly correlated to his second overall MLB rank with seven extra-base hits. It doesn’t hurt that he’s seen 47% fastballs.

He owns a low Soft% which has led to zero GIDP. His lefty/righty split is something to pay attention to as the season progresses. He’s slashed .302/.423/.581 against righties. Against lefties, he’s gone two for eight slashing .250/.333/.625. The more lefties he sees, the power numbers should see an increase as Haniger sports a solid SLG in his eight at-bats. Throughout his minor league career, Haniger has absolutely demolished left-handed pitching. Of course, the major outlier can be his Home/Away splits. I understand many players produce better at home compared to away ballpark, and Haniger’s Home/Away splits shouldn’t go unnoticed. Through six home games, Haniger has slashed .391/.500/.609 (1.109 OPS) with one home run, seven RBI, and five walks to six strikeouts. Away ballparks have been a complete 180 seeing him slash .214/.333/.571 (.905 OPS) with three home runs, four RBI, and four walks to 10 strikeouts. There’s no question Safeco is a pitcher’s park (27th hardest ballpark to hit a homerun in, with only Angel Stadium, Petco Park, and AT&T Park behind it), but Haniger has produced one of the best home-slash lines in all of baseball through two weeks. While his away average isn’t great, his .333 OBP is above average, and his home run total is triple that of his home total. Numerous times I’ve stated teams need to be successful against their own division to have success throughout the season. While the AL West could end up being a five-team race, Haniger has only faced the AL West. His year-to-date statistics have all been accumulated against Houston, Los Angeles, and Texas.

Turning our attention to the fantasy side, Haniger has been one of the better fantasy outfielders in the game. Haniger’s fantasy ranks are as follows: Yahoo: sixth overall (4th among OF), ESPN: fifth overall (3rd among OF), and Fantrax: fifth overall (3rd among OF). The Mariners outfielder has racked up 48 points in standard points leagues which currently ties him for sixth among hitters. He’s not only helped in the HR (4), RBI (11), and AVG (.294), but he’s tied for second with 12 runs scored. He’s on pace to reach the 20/20 plateau, and he could be one of the biggest sleepers in all of fantasy baseball. He’s already seen some of the most activity between teams in fantasy baseball. He’s been added in 5,256 Yahoo leagues, seen a 21% increase from being drafted in 67% of Fantrax leagues compared to a current own rate of 88%, and seen a 41.44% own percentage, through the free agent list, in all of ESPN fantasy leagues. If you’re in need of outfield help or are looking to acquire an arm, Haniger is one of the most sought after players. His stock may never be higher, and it’s hard to gauge if the production will last in his first full-season.

 

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(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday April 16th, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #83 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. We will be previewing the coming week’s key matchups and discussing key fantasy information.

Our guests this week are Lenny Melnick and Kyle Klinker. Kyle is an MLFB champion and a veteran of MLFS leagues. Lenny is an FSWA Hall of Famer, the co-host of the Sunday morning fantasy sports show from 7-10am EST with Craig Mish on Sirius, and the owner of lennymelnickfantasysports.com. Check his shows out on his site every morning through out the week at 9am EST.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

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(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday April 23rd, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #84 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. We will be previewing the coming week’s key matchups and discussing key fantasy information.

Our guests this week are Andy Macuga and Ron Shandler. Andy is the head football and baseball coach for Borrego Springs H.S. in southern California. Ron is a FSTA Hall of Famer and a fantasy baseball pioneer.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

 

I'm a former collegiate and semi-pro baseball player. I underwent successful Tommy John Surgery in 2008, and can give a wide-range of tips on the surgery and rehabilitation. Chicago sports are the love of my life [Cubs, Bears, Blackhawks, Bulls] as well as Serie A football [Forza Rossoneri!]. 2018 will be my fourth writing for Major League Fantasy Sports, and each season gets better than the previous. 2016 was very emotional for Cubs fans alike. After 108 years, they finally scaled the mountaintop! "Baseball been berry, berry good to me!"

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