Travis Hafner: the new Paul Sorrento?

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I used to look at Travis Hafner standing at the plate and see something like this. Now, all I see is this. That’s right Wahoos, that’s Paul Sorrento, the Indians’ first basemen and sometime DH from 1992 to 1995. And while the first image might be scarier for pitchers to glare down in the batter’s box, that monster is gone. The latter is even more frightening for Tribe fans, considering Hafner’s recent and continued implosion in the batter’s box. ... Is it time to write the obituary for Pronk? ... Not Travis Hafner, but his baseball-murdering alter-ego that terrorized AL pitchers in 2006 to the ripronkulous tune of a .308 BA, .659 SLG, league best OPS of 1.098, and 42 HR. His 2008 stats to date look invariably less Pronk-esque: .219 BA, .354 SLG, .667 OPS, and 3 HR. He looked as helpless as ever last night, when he went 0-for-4 with a K, and possibly the most weakly struck RBI in his career. Those numbers look more like those of a seventh or eighth hitter in your lineup, not like the guy who is batting third. Those numbers look like Paul Sorrento numbers. Actually, they look worse. Paulie, a completely unremarkable left-handed power hitter, put up a .235 BA, .511 SLG, .847 OPS, and 25 HR in 104 games in 1995, his final season in a Wahoo uniform. Which was fine. He batted eighth and anything you got from him was a bonus, because you had Baerga, Bell, Thome, Murray, and Ramirez providing power through the middle of the lineup. But Hafner sits is the middle of the lineup, and as he continues to suck, the Indians offense resembles more and more a roving pack of malnourished kittens. I used to see Pronk at the plate and assume he was going to get a hit, wondering only how far the ball would go and whether or not it would shatter someone’s mandible along the way. Now, I see Paul Sorrento, and I get moderately surprised when anything good happens. Mainly, though, I am thrilled when he doesn’t accidentally launch his bat and injure Victor Martinez. Boy would that suck. – Vince the Polack

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