Hafner with the New York Yankees
|Designated hitter / First baseman|
June 3, 1977 |
Jamestown, North Dakota
|August 6, 2002, for the Texas Rangers|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 29, 2013, for the New York Yankees|
|Runs batted in||731|
Travis Lee Hafner (//; born June 3, 1977) is an American former professional baseball player. He played in Major League Baseball as a designated hitter and first baseman. A left-handed hitter, Hafner played for the Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees. His nickname, "Pronk", was given to him by former teammate Bill Selby during spring training of 2001 when people sometimes referred to him as "The Project" and other times "Donkey" for the way he looked when running the bases. He has the most home runs for a player born in North Dakota, and tied the MLB-record for grand slams in one season with 6.
Early life and career
Hafner was born in Jamestown, North Dakota in 1977 and attended a small high school in Sykeston, North Dakota, which did not have a baseball program. He was valedictorian of his high school class of eight students. Hafner attended Cowley County Community College in Arkansas City, Kansas.
Hafner was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 31st round of the 1996 Major League Baseball Draft. He hit his first career home run August 11, 2002 while playing for the Rangers against the Indians. In addition to the home run, he had two doubles and a single in five at-bats, driving in three runs and scoring two. He nearly hit for the cycle in this game, but was thrown out at third base while attempting the triple.
In the winter of 2002, the Rangers traded Hafner to the Indians along with Aaron Myette for catcher Einar Diaz and right-handed pitcher Ryan Drese. Hafner enjoyed moderate success with the Indians in 2003, splitting time between first base and designated hitter. On August 14, he hit for the cycle in Minnesota, the first Indian to accomplish the feat since Andre Thornton in 1978.
In 2004, Hafner had a breakout offensive season. As the primary DH in the Indians line-up, he finished the season in the top ten in the league in on-base percentage (.410, 3rd), slugging percentage (.583, 4th), doubles (41, 6th), extra base hits (72, 7th), RBI (109, 9th) and batting average (.311, 10th). He also hit 28 home runs (16th in the AL) and scored 96 runs (20th in the AL). He topped the .300 mark in batting average each month of the season except August–when he hit a respectable .274–and was particularly hot in July, hitting .360 with 8 home runs and 28 RBI. He hit his first career grand slam in the Indians' home opener on April 12 against Kyle Lohse of the Minnesota Twins.
At the beginning of the 2005 season, the Indians signed Hafner to a three-year contract through 2007 with a club option for 2008.
He responded by exceeding his offensive production of 2004. He was again among the league-leaders in on-base percentage (3rd, .408), slugging percentage (3rd, .595), doubles (5th, 42), walks (7th, 79), extra base hits (8th, 75), batting average (9th, .305), home runs (9th, 33) and RBI (9th, 108). He also scored 94 runs. The American League named him Player of the Month for June, when he posted a .345 batting average with 10 doubles, 8 home runs, and 29 RBI in 24 games.
In the first full week of July he was named Player of the Week after hitting .480 with 4 home runs and 12 RBI in 8 games. On July 16, he was hit in the face by a pitch thrown by the Chicago White Sox's Mark Buehrle and was placed on the 15-day disabled list on July 26. After returning from the DL on August 4, he hit .296 with 15 home runs and 45 RBI over the remaining 54 games of the season. To end the season, he hit home runs in six straight games from September 18–24, the second longest such streak in Cleveland history.
For the third straight season, in 2006, Hafner posted MVP-caliber numbers while anchoring the middle of one of the most potent offenses in baseball. On September 1, he was hit on the hand by Texas Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson. The Indians placed him on the disabled list for the rest of the season on September 9 after X-rays revealed a broken bone in his right hand. At the time of the injury, he led the league in slugging percentage (.659) and walks (100); was second in home runs (42), RBI (117), total bases (299), on-base percentage (.439) and extra-base hits (74); and was third in runs scored (100). He also batted over .300 (.308) for the third consecutive season. He finished 8th in the league MVP voting by the BBWAA.
On June 7, a section in the right field mezzanine at Jacobs Field was officially opened as "Pronkville." On July 7, Hafner became the first player in Major League history to hit five grand slams before the All-Star break and passed Al Rosen in the team's season record book when he homered off Kris Benson of the Baltimore Orioles. He joined Hall-of-Famer Ernie Banks of the 1955 Chicago Cubs, Jim Gentile of the 1961 Orioles and Don Mattingly of the 1987 Yankees as the only players to hit at least five grand slams in a season.
A little more than a month later, on August 13, Hafner tied Mattingly's single-season record when he hit his sixth grand slam of the season off Luke Hudson of the Kansas City Royals. His league-leading 13 home runs and 30 RBI combined with his .361 average in the month of August earned him AL Player of the Month—the second time he has been honored as such in his career.
|MLB-record six Grand Slams in one season|
|1||May 1||White Sox||Brandon McCarthy||Jacobs Field||L 8–6|
|2||May 17||Royals||Jeremy Affeldt||Jacobs Field (2)||W 5–1|
|3||June 3||Angels||Brendan Donnelly||Jacobs Field (3)||W 14–2|
|4||July 1||Reds||Joe Mays||Great American Ball Park||W 12–7|
|5||July 7||Orioles||Kris Benson||Jacobs Field (4)||W 9–0|
|6||August 13||Royals (2)||Luke Hudson||Jacobs Field (5)||W 13–0|
Hafner set the single-season club mark with 39 home runs and 110 RBI as a DH, surpassing Andre Thornton's 1982 totals of 32 home runs and 109 RBI. He became the second Indian ever to record 100 walks, 100 runs and 100 RBI in the same season (Jim Thome did so in 1997, 2001 and 2002). His .659 slugging percentage was the sixth highest in team history.
In 2007, he batted .266 for the season, compared to .308 in 2006 and .305 in 2005. He hit 24 home runs and 100 runs batted in, his 4th straight season of 100+ RBI. Some critics point to Hafner's disappointing performance being due to unfinished contract negotiations, but Hafner denied this. The Indians signed Hafner to a four-year, $57 million contract extension during the All-Star break, keeping him in Cleveland through the 2012 season. As of the end of the 2007 season, Hafner ranked first all-time for career home runs by a player born in North Dakota with 142.
Hafner missed most of the 2008 season due to injuries, appearing in only 57 games with 234 appearances at the plate. When he did play, Hafner's performance was the worst of his career, finishing his abbreviated season with a .628 OPS.
Though he still missed time due to injury in 2009, Hafner appeared in 94 games and hit .272 with 16 home runs and an .826 OPS.
Hafner played 118 games with 462 plate appearances in 2010, hitting .278 with 13 home runs and an .824 OPS.
In 2011, Hafner played in 94 games. He batted .280 and had 57 RBIs along with 13 home runs. On May 13, 2011, Hafner hit a walk-off home run off of Seattle Mariners closer Brandon League. Hafner hit another walk-off home run on July 7, 2011 off of Toronto Blue Jays reliever Luis Pérez which was a grand slam.
On April 5, 2012, Hafner became only the 12th player in Cleveland Indians history to make at least 10 starts on Opening Day in a Cleveland Indians uniform. On April 15, 2012, Hafner hit a home run off of Kansas City Royals starting pitcher Luis Mendoza that was estimated at 456 feet. It was the longest homer hit at Kauffman Stadium since 2001. When Hafner was placed on the injured list in May for surgery to repair an injured right knee, it was his sixth appearance on the list in the last five seasons. Against the Detroit Tigers on August 5, Hafner a solo home run in the 10th inning, his 200th home run of his career. He was again placed on the disabled list in August with lower back inflammation. On November 1, the Indians declined on his option, making him a free agent.
New York Yankees
On February 1, 2013, Hafner signed a one-year 2 million dollar contract with the New York Yankees. In his first game at Progressive Field as an ex-Indian, he was 2-for-3 with two walks, four RBIs and three runs, including a three run home run in his first at-bat. Despite batting .318 in April, Hafner faltered later in the season and suffered rotator cuff inflammation. Limited to only 82 games, Hafner batted .202 with 12 home runs and 37 RBI.
In November 2006, Hafner married Amy Hafner (née Beekman). The couple have two sons, Blake Lee, born October 14, 2009, and Trip John, born August 1, 2012.
In April 2006, Malley's Chocolates of Cleveland unveiled the 'Pronk Bar', a milk chocolate candy bar named in honor of Hafner. Hafner's new product, "Pronk Beef Jerky" hit shelves in mid-2007.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Travis Hafner.|
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or ESPN, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- The Pronk Shift
|American League Player of the Month
|Single season Grand Slam record holders