Mariners versus Yankees match-ups are an historic part of baseball lore in the Pacific Northwest. For decades it has been the classic David and Goliath, with the fearsome, well-funded favorite casting a shadow across the upper left corner of the United States. And when the M’s have to travel to the bandbox that is New Yankee Stadium? Fughetaboutit.
Prior to this year, the Mariners had won just 184 games against the Yankees in franchise history and lost 250. Facing off against those pinstripes always feels intimidating, but this year felt particularly worrisome - the Yankees even more of an offensive juggernaut than usual, the Mariners perched precariously in playoff contention, the inexplicable scheduling that meant they’d play each other six times in 10 days.
But then there were dingers...
and incredible pitching duels...
and electric bullpen performances...
and a level of baserunning buffoonery I still cannot quite fathom.
This is it. This is the highlight of this account.— Runners Getting Thrown Out (@tootblans) August 10, 2022
The Yankees have the worst baserunning night in baseball history. pic.twitter.com/sjUJklP0fd
And all of a sudden the 2022 Mariners had put together their best season-wide showing against the Yankees since 2001 (by W-L%).
Luis Castillo was the unquestionable pitching hero, spinning his third gem against the Bombers over the course of a month, including his Tuesday night home debut where he allowed three hits over eight scoreless. But it feels particularly fitting that in this David and Goliath matchup, former 24th round pick and waiver wire claim Sam Haggerty was the offensive star.
Hours and a lifetime away from the Bronx sits Binghamton, New York. It’s home to six of the 150 remaining wood-carved carousels left in North America, a handful of universities and the mighty Binghamton Rumble Ponies. Haggerty, selected by Cleveland in the 2015 draft, spent his 2019 minor league season in this Carousel Capital of the World (rumble ponies, get it?) after being traded to the Mets as part of the Kevin Plawecki deal.
Faithful Sea Us Summarize readers know that Haggerty’s success with the Mariners is the lone feather in my mostly nonexistent scouting cap. Binghamton isn’t the closest minor league team to Cooperstown, but in 2019 they were certainly the most interesting, with top Mets prospect Andrés Giménez drawing much of the attention. Unfortunately, the Rumble Ponies lacked any substantial offensive power - and their pitching wasn’t in great shape either. It made for some less-than-riveting baseball. But the more we made the hour and a half long sojourn southwest, the more I started to recognize a theme: Giménez’s prospect sheen be damned, this Sam Haggerty guy was the real star in Binghamton. The stats certainly don’t back it up, but it often felt like Haggerty was the only player on that team to be putting the ball in play, and I’ll always be grateful to him for making Binghamton baseball better (and, obviously, for allowing me to look remarkably smart this year).
The Mets took note of his strong season and called him up to the majors that September, only to DFA him in late December. The Mariners claimed him two weeks later, and suffice to say I was the only Mariners fan leaping for joy with this news (unless there are some Haggerty cousins up here in the PNW). Haggerty had streaks of brilliance in the majors in 2020 and 2021, but this year he’s simply been on another level. Given career high plate appearances this season, Haggerty has capitalized on the playing time by slashing .323/.369/.542 in 103 PAs with a 160 wRC+ and 1.2 fWAR. And as the Mariners have trundled ever closer to a potential playoff appearance, I can’t help but think what an ideal player Haggerty is to have on a postseason roster.
SAM. HAGGERTY. WOW. pic.twitter.com/82wbthKAyp— Seattle Mariners (@Mariners) August 10, 2022
Haggerty has been a joy all year, but it felt particularly satisfying to see him really step up against the =perennially favored Yankees. In six games and across 18 plate appearances against New York, Haggerty was borderline unstoppable. Small sample size numbers tend to be gaudy, but these are hilarious: .438/.500/.813, 1.313 OPS, and team-high fWAR (.5) and wRC+ (265).
“You need the Sam Haggertys of the world to have a successful baseball season,” Rick Rizzs said, and this season that’s especially true.