Travis Hafner went deep for the first time this season off John Danks on Wednesday afternoon. It may have seemed like a meaningless homer in a 10-6 loss to the White Sox, but the home run may be a good sign for the Tribe slugger for a few reasons.
1) Danks is a lefty. And any production we can get from Hafner against lefties is a bonus. From 2009-11, Pronk went deep just 10 times against left handers, compared to 33 homers against righties. So far this year, both of Hafner’s extra-base hits (one double, one home run) have come against lefties.
2) The home run came on a pitch in the upper-outside corner of the strike zone, a location in which Hafner typically doesn’t show much power. In fact, he hasn’t homered on a pitch in that location since 2010, when he blasted a 95-mph heater from Felix Hernandez over the right-field wall.
3) Danks’ cutter was only clocked at 84 miles per hour, meaning Hafner generated the power to send the ball into the second deck all on his own. In recent years, the overwhelming majority of Pronk’s home runs have come off fastballs. Over the previous two years combined, just five of his homers have come off pitches clocked under 85 miles per hour.
It’s still very early in the season, but these are definitely some encouraging signs for Hafner. If he can build upon this performance, his bat could prove to be a valueable asset in the middle of the Tribe lineup once again.