Eric Haase could be on thin ice for the Detroit Tigers
The last two years, Eric Haase has been an awesome story. A hometown guy, he became one of the best hitters on the team out of nowhere. He hit 22 homers in 2021 and had a 112 wRC+ while cutting down his strikeout rate by almost 5% in 2022. He went into 2023 as the team's starting catcher, and he had earned it. Unfortunately, he seems to have lost that privelage.
Haase has seemingly forgotten how to hit in 2023. In 222 plate appearances, he's currently slashing .213/.261/.300 with a 54 wRC+. He's currently worth -0.7 fWAR after being worth 2.5 fWAR combined the last two years. That's nothing crazy, but it's a heck of a lot better than being below replacement level.
The thing you could always count on with Haase is his power, and that has vanished into thin air. He only has three home runs this year with an ISO of .087. Woof.
One of the biggest issues with him is that he's stopped hitting fastballs. He used to crush fastballs, but he's only hitting .235 against them this season. He's also back to whiffing at breaking balls after improving significant against them last season. He hit .261 against breaking balls last season, but he's down to .200 against them in 2023. He seems to be in between on his timing.
Haase knows this. Evan Petzold of The Detroit Free Press wrote an article ($$$) about him, and Haase said timing has been a huge issue for him this year.
""I'm fouling off a lot of fastballs now, and I'm hitting a lot of balls on the barrel that are straight up or straight into the ground.""- Eric Haase
The good news here is that Haase is aware of the issue and is working to fix it. The question is how long the can the Tigers stick with him?
He's already lost playing time to Jake Rogers, who's been on a major hot streak as of late. A.J. Hinch has been riding the hot hand at the catcher position.
Haase's defense has never been very good, but it was tolerated because he could hit. Now, he's not hitting. If he can't hit or field, it's hard to justify his spot on the roster.
Writing this makes me said. Haase has been one of my personal favorites players on this team the last couple of years because he was one of the few who could actually hit with consistency. But it's getting to the point where I'm not sure how much longer he can stick around.
He's a great story and I know he's well respected in the clubhouse, and rightfully so. But the Eric Haase era may be nearing its end.