Rising Apple Player of the Week: Scott Hairston

By Matt Musico

The Rising Apple staff chooses one player to highlight on our site for their outstanding or unique performance for the last week. If  you have a nomination on who should be crowned as the Rising Apple Player of the Week, please let us know! You can leave us a comment, tweet us (@RisingAppleBlog) or make a comment on Facebook.

It’s been a career year for outfielder Scott Hairston. Not only is he the second-fastest Met to hit 20 home runs in less than 400 plate appearances (Richard Hidalgo hit 21 bombs in 357 PAs in 2004), but he’s set a number of personal bests in various offensive categories. It wasn’t necessarily a great week for the outfielder, but a four-hit game allowed him to finish the year with five hits in his last two contests, allowing him to enter the off-season on a high note.

Oct. 3, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; New York Mets left fielder Scott Hairston (center) celebrates his two-run homer with teammates in the dugout during the fourth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Hairston has set new career highs in games played (134), runs scored (52), and home runs. His .263/.299/.504 line is his best since 2009. Playing at what ended up being a huge discount this season after re-signing with New York last winter to a one-year/$1.1 million deal, Scott and his agents have a different focus as he once again enters the free agent market. He feels that with the solid season he’s had, combined with basically being an everyday player over the final two months of the season, he deserves the chance to fight for a starting role at the Major League level.

It’s tough to argue with him; some fans want to give him a shot, but others say his weaknesses would be exposed. However, the fact of the matter is Hairston has never gotten the opportunity to be a starter, and the closest he’s come to being one was this past season, and he was one of the biggest power bats the Mets had, coming in third on the squad in home runs, while getting significantly less at-bats than either David Wright or Ike Davis.

Sandy Alderson talked about Hairston’s season on WFAN today and mentioned that he would likely command a multi-year deal in the free agent market this winter. New York’s outfield situation is a mess, so it would be interesting to see if the front office decides to target their original fourth outfielder as just that, or allowing him a chance to fight for a starting job in Spring Training. Either way, he’ll be commanding more than that $1 million salary he had this year, meaning Sandy may hold back and hope his value drops since they don’t have much budget flexibility.

It was a good enough week for Hairston to grab his second Rising Apple Player of the Week honors, and it’s definitely been a year to remember for him, even though Mets fans would like to forget most of 2012. He was one of the few bright spots during this trying season and it would be nice to bring him back, but it remains to be seen if New York fits into the outfielder’s plans.