Travis Hafner Biography: Cleveland Indians’ DH/First Baseman

Travis Hafner, currently a designated hitter/first baseman for the Cleveland Indians, was born on June 3, 1977 in Jamestown, North Dakota. He attended Cowley County College. He bats left and throws right. He is a large man indeed; he is listed at 6’3″ and 240 pounds. He also carries the nickname of “Pronk”. It stands for part project, part donkey. He was considered a project player at first (or one that would require some fine tuning) and most of his teammates jokingly refer to him as a donkey for his less than stellar looks.

He was originally drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 31st round of the 1996 amateur draft. He had only 62 at-bats for the Rangers, those coming in 2002. He had one home run, six RBI and only batted .242. In December of that same year, he was traded (along with Aaron Myette) to the Cleveland Indians for catcher Einar Diaz and pitcher Ryan Drese. The Rangers certainly could have found Hafner expendable, considering the team had another star first baseman rising through the minors, his name being Mark Teixeira.

Hafner saw only 291 at-bats in 2003 for Cleveland, but he managed to hit 14 home runs and drive in 40 runs. His real break out came in 2004, when he hit 28 home runs and had 109 RBI. He batted .311 that season and nearly scored 100 runs (96).
2005 was Travis’ best season by far. He hit 33 home runs, had 108 RBI and batted .305. Again, he nearly scored 100 runs (94). This was after missing 15 games after being hit in the face by a Mark Buehrle pitch. He came off the DL on a major hot streak in 2005, and was named the Tribe’s Man of the Year. He also finished fifth in the voting for American League MVP.
Hafner is a major component to the Tribe’s success. He consistently ranks in the top ten of the major offensive categories, and has the ability to energize the team, that being evidenced by his three grand slams less than halfway through 2006. He normally bats somewhere close to the third or fourth spot.

Hafner is only in his late twenties and is slowly being recognized as one of the best hitters in baseball. He hits for a high average and is a major power source for the Indians. Luckily for him that the DH is in effect; he isn’t known as the best fielder or one that is in the best physical shape to play first base. That does not matter, though; he is the Indians’ MVP and in a few years he could very well be the American League’s MVP.

Travis Hafner Statistics
2002 (TEX): 62 AB, 15 H, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 8 BB, 15 SO, .242 BA

2003 (CLE): 291 AB, 74 H, 14 HR, 40 RBI, 22 BB, 81 SO, .254 BA

2004 (CLE): 482 AB, 150 H, 28 HR, 109 RBI, 68 BB, 111 SO, .311 BA

2005 (CLE): 486 AB, 148 H, 33 HR, 108 RBI, 79 BB, 123 SO, .305 BA

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