Pronk slowly getting national praise

Travis Hafner has arguably the catchiest nickname of any Cleveland athlete. He even has a candy bar named after him. Problem is, it seems that his popularity and appreciation as a baseball talent is limited to the city of Cleveland and it’s fans. He had comparable numbers the last two seasons to his fellow left-handed DH David Ortiz, who garners the majority of the attention.

Hafner was fifth in the A.L. MVP voting last season, but has yet to make an All-Star team. He could walk down the street of virtually any major North American city without getting recognized. His ‘Q’ rating is about what you’d expect of the under-secretary in the Department of the Interior.

However, as baseball writer Ken Rosenthal points out, Pronk is a player to be reckoned with and his time in the spotlight will come soon one day.

Hafner hits everywhere, everything and everyone except, perhaps, Tigers left-hander Mike Maroth, against whom he is 2-for-18. As Shapiro says, “You can’t typecast him as one type of hitter.” This is Shapiro’s 15th year with the Indians. He has seen Albert Belle, Manny Ramirez and Jim Thome come through the organization. Yet, he says that none of those sluggers matched the combined approach, focus, toughness and intelligence of Hafner.

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