Mariners rising star Mitch Haniger continues great season with walk-off home run

The Seattle Mariners won again on Wednesday, completing a sweep over the Los Angeles Angels. The win pushed the M's to 20-5 since May 17, an arbitrary endpoint but one that demonstrates how well they've played over the past several weeks.

One reason for the Mariners' ascent? Right fielder Mitch Haniger, who hit a two-run walk-off home-run to cap Wednesday's victory:

Haniger's heroics came after he'd preserved the tie in the top half of the ninth, starting his second double play in as many days by making a grab and throwing out an overzealous baserunner. Factor in Haniger's other hit on the afternoon and he exited Wednesday's game hitting .270/.352/.524 while playing good defense all year. That's a valuable ballplayer, and seemingly an improving one, too.

Haniger's home run was his 16th of the year, giving him as many as he had last year in 100-plus fewer at-bats. He's also one walk short of last year's total, and has already drove in more runs than he did in 2017 (more trivial than not, but still). Oh, and he's improved his on-base and power numbers while maintaining the same strikeout rate. That's not easy to do.

Add it all together and it's not too surprising that Haniger entered Wednesday with a team-leading 139 OPS+. The third-highest mark on the Mariners? That belongs to Jean Segura who, by the way, was acquired in the same trade as Haniger. 

Jerry Dipoto has made his share of missteps, both in Seattle and before that with Los Angeles. Acquiring Haniger -- then giving him a chance to be an everyday player -- is looking more and more like one of his best decisions. 

CBS Sports Staff

R.J. Anderson joined CBS Sports in 2016. He previously wrote for Baseball Prospectus, where he contributed to five of the New York Times bestselling annuals. His work has also appeared in Newsweek and... Full Bio

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