Our Year in Review series continues as we take a look at how Scott Hairston contributed off the Mets’ bench in 2012. After compiling a .235 batting average in 79 games for the New York Mets in 2011, Hairston agreed to terms to rejoin the club for another season in January, 2011. Turns out, Hairston was one of the few bright spots of the club, as he went on to have a career-high year offensively in a continued limited role for the New York Mets.
How he handled the bat
In a limited role, Hairston hit .244 with a pair of homers during the first month of April to begin the season, and progressed nicely the following three months that followed, hitting fours home runs in each month from May through June with a batting average above .290 in two of those three months that followed. With Ike Davis struggling big time at the plate to begin the year, Hairston provided much pop to an offense known for its lack of power throughout the lineup. Hairston ended the season with a .263 batting average to go along with his first-ever 20 home run season.
It should also be noted that as the trade deadline approached, Hairston’s name was mentioned on the trade block various times, but because Mets GM Sandy Alderson firmly demanded top tier prospect in return from any contending team interested in acquiring his right-handed hitter, teams balked at the asking price and Hairston remained with the Mets. Given the weak starting outfield situation the Mets played with this season, I am quite surprised that Hairston was never really given any extended amount of playing time as a starter, as Terry Collins preferred to have him coming off the bench. By no means I am saying Hairston is a quality starting outfielder, but given the power numbers he provided this club with off the bench with just 377 at-bats, he at least earned the opportunity to compete for a starting spot in the outfield, especially with how depleted the 2012 outfield situation was the majority of the season.
How he handled the glove
Although Hairston is not known for having a flashy glove in the outfield, he definitely is capable of holding his own without being a drain to the team on the defensive end. In 108 games in the outfield, Hairston only committed one lone error in 2012.
Projected Role in 2013
With Hairston headed into free agency, it is very much in the air on whether or not he will be back with the team next year. Despite voicing his desire to stay with the club, he wants to have a bigger role with the 2013 team, and it is unclear if the Mets would offer him such a role. I don’t blame Hairston for wanting a bigger role, especially after putting up the offensive power numbers he posted this season along with how weak the Mets current outfield situation is.
Hairston is heading into free-agency after signing a one-year, $1.1 million deal on January 11th, 2011. Given the career year Hairston had in 2012, I can easily see another team offer him a contract bigger than a one-year deal. To have 20 homers with less than 400 at-bats is a pretty impressive feature, which will only increase his price tag when looking for another contract. If I had to guess, I would say Hairston will end up signing elsewhere for a longer contract.