Over the past few seasons the Yankees have had incredible success with single season, aging platoon DHs. First it was Marcus Thames. After him it was Andruw Jones. Last year it was Raul Ibanez. Will it be Travis Hafner this season?
At first glance you have to imagine that the only role Hafner will play in pinstripes is as a member of the DL. Despite his mass, Pronk is made of porcelain. The last time he played in more than 100 games was 2010, and then he managed just 118 games. Last season he had just 263 plate appearances in 66 games. Pronk is entering his age 36 season. Another injury seems inevitable.
While it is difficult to see past Hafner’s lengthy injury history, the numbers he puts up when he stays healthy are still impressive. He managed a .342 wOBA last season, with a .346 OBP and a .438 SLG. In 2011 his wOBA was .354 and he managed to get into 94 games. Pronk has never been able to do anything but hit, but when he’s healthy he still brings a solid bat to the ballpark.
In light of those numbers, it is clear why the Yankees signed Hafner. He’s a low cost gamble. If he can stay healthy enough to get into 100 games, he figures to give the Yankees a .340-.350 wOBA bat against righties. In addition, he has upside for the Yankees. His left handed bat figures to play well at Yankee Stadium, potentially inflating his power numbers. All told, while it is still most likely that Hafner will suffer an injury and play in just 50 games, he remains an intriguing, somewhat overlooked addition to the offense.