Rookie seasons are no small task for players -- regardless if it’s a pitcher or hitter. It’s the major adjustment of facing guys who have better control with multiple pitches, or hitters who’ve seen just about everything.
However, if you ask some players, the real adjustment comes in the second full season, when organizations have developed extensive scouting reports on players.
The “sophomore slump” is something hitters deal with during that stretch. Numbers tend to drop because scouting reports expose flaws, something that minor league pitchers don’t often have access to.
Mookie Betts, however, doesn’t entirely agree with the notion that it calls for a major slump.
“I mean I don’t know if it’s necessarily a thing,” the sophomore right fielder said. “You hear about it and whatnot, but I think it’s just an adjustment period guys go through. Everybody’s done it. Some people just get out of it faster.”
Early on it appeared Betts was falling into the stages of a “sophomore slump,” going through a 1-for-19 rut after opening day, then 2-for-21 stretch through mid-April.
Since that last slump ended on April 20th, Betts has boasted a .321 clip with two home runs, two triples and three doubles. He’s knocked in eight runs in the process, scoring 14 times himself.
So -- needless to say -- he doesn’t think it was the aforementioned slump
“No, I think it was just adjustments,” Betts explained. “I pretty much think it was just more adjustments that I had to make. Fortunately I was able to make a couple of them. That’s all it is. They make a move and we’ve got to make a move back.”
The adjustments weren’t a mechanical issue either -- it was more related to his approach at the plate.
“It’s important for me to go be aggressive,” Betts said. “They’re not trying to walk me, they aren’t trying to walk anybody -- except David Ortiz.”
One thing Betts has done a better job of since his last slump was shoot pitches to right field. He has to do that if he hopes to hit well because most, if not all, pitchers know he’ll clear out any inside pitch to the Monster seats faster than they can blink.
“They still make mistakes, too,” he said on pitchers working away from him. “I think the part is being aggressive and being ready for those mistakes.”
Like most hitters, Betts doesn’t expect to go though a major slump in 2016, but he knows there are more factors in play than the contact he makes.
“It just depends,” Betts said. “A lot goes into balls falling. I think I’ve hit the ball well this year and haven’t gotten a lot to fall. But then again, I have gotten some to fall. I think I’ve done pretty well, even through the time I was struggling I thought I did all right. [It’s] just [about] trying to get out of those little slumps quickly.”