BOSTON — There seems to be a tinge of Giancarlo Stanton in Mookie Betts these days, a tiny but nonetheless notable connection as Betts built toward two home runs on Tuesday night in an 11-1 win over the A's.
Earlier this year, Sox hitting coach Chili Davis looked at video of Stanton with Betts. Stanton, who has 54 home runs and could crack 60, has a dramatically closed batting stance.
Betts starts open and still does, but the finishing point has changed lately.
“We did talk about that and he has done that, he feels a lot more balanced that way,” Davis said. “He feels like he’s taller at the plate.”
Taller, but not closed. This wasn’t a project to turn Betts’ swing or approach into Stanton’s, not by a long shot. It was an attempt to point out something Stanton does in pronounced fashion that Betts could perhaps integrate, in his own way.
“He’s not closed,” Davis said of Betts. “He starts where he starts. But he gets back to square. He wasn’t getting back to square before. To him, it feels closed off. It’s not going to be Giancarlo Stanton, He’s not that guy.”
Certainly not. But Betts did something he rarely does Tuesday, going the other way with success, for the triple — which may be more notable than both the home runs, which were pulled. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Betts entered Tuesday night hitting just .169 when going to the opposite field. Last year, he hit .266, so he was better, but going oppo is definitely not his strong suit.
At the least, looking at video of Stanton — who mashes to all fields, and has a .333 average to right in 2017 — could not have hurt.
“I don’t know if that helped,” Davis said. “I’m not going to take credit for that, kids are swinging good, man.”
Betts is a feel hitter, which is to say that he himself doesn’t always know how to explain what is missing when something is missing. Even behind the scenes, never mind to the media. But he’s definitely not the type to break down his mechanics in a post-game media scrum.
Take his initial explanation Tuesday when asked what’s changed.
“That’s the weird part,” Betts said. “I think it could be just the game of baseball. I’m not exactly sure what it is.”
When it was noted to Betts that manager John Farrell said he’s been standing taller, Betts did note the same.
“I’ve been standing up a little taller and just trying to stay above the ball and that way I’m swinging down instead of up,” Betts said.
Farrell noted Betts is letting the ball travel further.
“He looks loose in the batter’s box. The bat speed has always been there,” Farrell said. “A little bit more upright, a little bit more relaxed, not charging out to get some pitches.”