Hafner Faces Final Season In Tribe Uniform
Each week through Spring Training the DTTWLN staff will profile and break down the players in camp for the Indians at Goodyear, Arizona and examine their potential roles for the season to come. This week, we continue our Goodyear coverage by breaking down the players who are most in need of a bounce back season if the Tribe is to make the playoffs.
By Christian Petrila
One of the last remaining pieces from the 2007 Indians that made it to within one game of the World Series is Travis Hafner, and his clock is ticking.
Arguably one of the biggest busts since his contract extension, Hafner is due to make $13 million in 2012. The Indians have a team option on him for 2013, but it’s probably a safe bet that it will be declined.
Hafner signed an extension with the Indians in 2007. He was coming off a season in which he hit .308 with 42 home runs and 117 RBI. He had a chance at breaking the Indians single-season record for home runs, but a pitch that fractured his hand ended that quest.
The 2007 Hafner wasn’t as good as the 2006 version, but he still hit 24 homers and drove in 100 runs. He was a crucial piece to the team that came so close, yet so far.
The downward spiral for the Indians DH started in 2008. He only played in 57 games due to injuries, and was hitting a dismal .197 in his shortened campaign.
The 2009 season was no more kind to the slugger. Once again, he failed to play in 100 games while hitting .272. Another year, another $13 million down the drain.
The 2010 and 2011 seasons were improvements for Hafner, but still far from $13 million-worthy. In the two seasons combined, he hit 26 home runs and 107 RBI. In those 200-plus games, he still didn’t come close to the numbers he put up in only 129 games in 2006.
Whether 2012 is Hafner’s swan song with Chief Wahoo on his hat or not, he still has had one of the most discussed careers in Cleveland Indians history. He went from one of the most feared hitters in the American League to a regular on the disabled list.
In nine seasons in Cleveland, he has hit .281 with 188 home runs and 654 RBI. Depending on how healthy he stays in 2012, he could hit his 200th career home run.
He is most likely going to platoon at DH this season with the likes of Shelley Duncan and possibly Casey Kotchman. He is going to be 35 by the end of the season and if the Indians are out of contention, it’s very possible they could trade him to a contender.
His spring numbers have not been kind thus far. He is only hitting .167 with one home run and one RBI through seven games.
All signs point to this being Travis Hafner’s last season inCleveland. If it indeed is, he’d definitely want to go out with style rather than a stint on the disabled list.
Photo: Getty Images
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