Travis Lee Hafner (Pronk) is the designated hitter for the Cleveland Indians. He also occasionally plays first base, but is unable to do so regularly due to arthritis in his right elbow.
Hafner was born in 1977 in Jamestown, North Dakota. He grew up on his family's farm in Sykeston, ND.
As a child, Travis participated in Little League, Babe Ruth League and American Legion baseball programs.
At Sykeston High School, Hafner played basketball and ran track. He earned all-region honors in basketball and finished 3rd in state in discus and triple jump his senior year. Hafner was also the valedictorian of his senior class (of 12 students). He graduated high school in 1995.
At the recommendation of scouts from the Atlanta Braves organization, Hafner attended Cowley County Community College in Arkansas City, Kansas.
He earned junior college all-American honors in 1997 and was MVP of the JUCO World Series, hitting a 3-run homer in a 4-2 win over Seminole (OK) JC in the championship game.
Hafner was given the nickname "Pronk" by former teammate Bill Selby during spring training when people would sometimes refer to him as "The Project" and other times "Donkey" for the way he looked when running the bases.
Hafner enjoyed moderate success with the Indians in 2003, splitting time between first base and designated hitter. On August 14, he hit for the cycle in Minnesota, the first Indian to accomplish the feat since Andre Thornton in 1978.
In 2004, Hafner had a breakout offensive season. As the primary DH in the Indians line-up, he finished the season in the top ten in the league in on-base percentage (.410, 3rd), slugging percentage (.583, 4th), doubles (41, 6th), extra base hits (72, 7th), RBI (109, 9th) and batting average (.311, 10th). He also hit 28 home runs (16th in the AL) and scored 96 runs (20th in the AL). He topped the .300 mark in batting average each month of the season except August–when he hit a respectable .274–and was particularly hot in July, hitting .360 with 8 HR and 28 RBI. He hit his first career grand slam in the Indians' home opener on April 12 against Kyle Lohse of the Minnesota Twins.
At the beginning of the 2005 season, the Indians signed Hafner to a 3-year contract through 2007 with a club option for 2008. He responded by exceeding his impressive offensive production of 2004. He was again among the league-leaders in on-base percentage (3rd, .408), slugging percentage (3rd, .595), doubles (5th, 42), walks (7th, 79), extra base hits (8th, 75), batting average (9th, .305), home runs (9th, 33) and RBI (9th, 108). He also scored 94 runs. The American League named him Player of the Month for June, when he posted a .345 batting average with 10 doubles, 8 HR and 29 RBI in 24 games. He continued to swing a hot bat the first full week of July when he was named Player of the Week after hitting .480 with 4 HR and 12 RBI in 8 games.
On July 16, he was hit in the face by a pitch thrown by the Chicago White Sox's Mark Buehrle and was placed on the 15-day disabled list on July 26. After returning from the DL on August 4, he hit .296 with 15 HR and 45 RBI over the remaining 54 games of the season. He finished the season with a flurry, hitting home runs in six straight games from September 18–24, the second longest such streak in Cleveland history. After the season, the Cleveland chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) named him Indians Man of the Year and he finished fifth in the AL Most Valuable Player voting.
The 2006 season saw Hafner firmly establish himself as one of the premiere power hitters in the game. For the third straight season, he posted MVP-caliber numbers while anchoring the middle of one of the most potent offenses in baseball. His season was cut short when on September 1, he was hit on the hand by Texas Rangers pitcher C.J. Wilson. The Indians placed him on the disabled list for the rest of the season on September 9 after X-rays revealed a broken bone in his right hand. At the time of the injury, he led the league in slugging percentage (.659) and walks (100); was second in home runs (42), RBI (117), total bases (299), on-base percentage (.439) and extra-base hits (74); and was third in runs scored (100). He also batted over .300 (.308) for the third consecutive season. He finished 8th in the league MVP voting by the BBWAA.
On July 7, Hafner became the first player in Major League history to hit five grand slams before the All-Star break and passed Al Rosen in the team's season record book when he connected off of Kris Benson of the Baltimore Orioles. A little more than a month later, on August 13, Hafner tied Don Mattingly's single-season record when he cracked his sixth grand slam of the season off of Luke Hudson of the Kansas City Royals. His league-leading 13 home runs and 30 RBI combined with his .361 average in the month of August earned him AL Player of the Month—the second time he's been so honored in his career.
Hafner set the single-season club mark with 39 home runs and 110 RBI as a DH, surpassing Andre Thornton's 1982 totals of 32 home runs and 109 RBI. He became the second Indian ever to record 100 walks, 100 runs and 100 RBI in the same season (Jim Thome did so in 1997, 2001 and 2002). His .659 slugging percentage was the sixth highest in team history.
Thus far, Hafner has been struggling offensively in the 2007 season. Although still maintaining a respectable on-base percentage, as of June 24, he was only batting .254, and has had trouble hitting for power.
On July 12, the Indians and Hafner held a press conference to announce Hafner's contract extension. This contract extension both added to his salary for the seasons for which Hafner was currently signed, and will keep him with the club through 2012, with a club option for 2013.
A pure hitter with excellent power and strike zone judgment.
- Selected by the Texas Rangers in the 31st round of the free-agent draft (June 4, 1996 - signed June 2, 1997).
- Traded by Texas Rangers with Aaron Myette to Cleveland Indians in exchange for Einar Diaz and Ryan Drese (December 6, 2002).
- Has a Beef Jerky Product named after him.
- Ranks Number One in Homer Runs for his home state of North Dakaota.
- He loves video games.
- He loves the WWE.
- Has a Chocalate bar named after him.
- Has the nick name Pronk.
- Has hit for the cycle.
- The Pronk Shift -- a defensive maneuver used by the Tampa Bay Rays versus Hafner and others