2011 Season in Review: Scott Hairston

By Unknown author

The New York Mets went 77-85 in 2011. As suggested by the sub-par record, there were a fair share of ups and downs throughout the season. “2011 Season in Review,” which will be an ongoing series, will analyze every single Mets player that picked up a ball or glove in 2011, for better or worse. This particular “2011 Season in Review” will take a look at outfielder Scott Hairston.

Every team needs role players; guys who can come off the bench and pinch hit and play defense.  For the Mets, Scott Hairston was that guy (well, mostly the pinch hitting part).  And although he got off to a lousy start, he managed to finish the season with some respectable numbers.

Signed to a one year deal last offseason, Hairston’s role was to be a right-handed hitting power bat off the bench who could play anywhere in the outfield, if necessary.  Out of his 145 plate appearances, 47 came as a pinch hitter, which arguably is one of the more difficult jobs in baseball.  Even though his numbers might not have been Matt Franco or Lenny Harris-like, Hairston did a decent job in his limited playing time.

On the season, Scott finished with a batting line of .235/.303/.470 with seven homers and a wRC+ of 109, meaning he was better than average at creating runs.  His year, however, got off to a disastrous beginning.  Over his first 18 plate appearances, Hairston recorded just one hit and struck out eight times.  Beginning in early May, however, Hairston found his groove.  From May 8th to August 6th, Hairston notched 23 hits in 73 PA with 12 extra-base hits, including six homers, giving him a slash line of .338/.384/.706 during that span.  He cooled down a little after that, and was forced to shut down in late August due to an oblique injury.

Hairston was signed to bring three things to the Amazins: pinch hitting skills, power and the ability to hit lefties.  On the pinch hitting front, Hairston was just 8-41, a .195 clip, with five walks and seventeen strikeouts.  However, four of those hits were for extra-bases, and three of them were home runs (including one dramatic shot off Brian Wilson prior to the All Star Break).  In terms of power, Hairston demonstrated that ability, bringing his seven long balls, .470 slugging percentage and .235 ISO to the table.  The lefty/righty splits, however, are interesting.  Despite a solid .274/.328/.486 career slash line versus southpaws, Hairston hit just .247/.307/.395 against lefties in 2011, with just one homer.  Against righties, the outfielder hit .216/.298/.588 with six big flies.

Hairston, a free agent, is likely low on Sandy Alderson’s priority list this offseason.  Whether or not he re-signs with the Mets depends on if there is a cheaper, comparable option internally or on the market.  Since it is possible that Hairston might be snatched up by a team that views signing a bench player as a priority (whereas the Mets will focus on Jose Reyes and the bullpen, at least at the beginning of the offseason), the right-handed power bat might be in a different uniform next season.