NEW BRITAIN - Slumping in baseball should be considered a certainty, especially in a season thatâ€™s more than 120 games, like it is in the Atlantic League. No team is immune and franchises like the New Britain Bees labor through a daily grind in the heat of summer, but some of the bats are bound to cool off at times.
But the best way to combat a slump is by continuing to put together quality at-bats. If a player like Jonathan Galvez is hitting his usual barrels but coming up empty, perhaps he can work counts and help the rest of the lineup waiting behind him see everything the opposing pitcher has. Sometimes, the best way out of a slump is patience and commitment to whatâ€™s always worked, and the Bees have shown an ability to maintain when key contributors can no longer find holes in the defense.
The Bees currently have the second-highest team OPS in the Atlantic League, collectively posting a mark of .748 while trying to overcome a pitching staff that had struggled badly up until the following two weeks. New Britain has put together a successful stretch of late, going 8-2 in their last 10 games entering Friday despite a few big names going cold at the plate. So, how do they continue to score enough runs to win these games?
The answer lies in the three true outcomes that no baseball Gods can tamper with in the form of hard-hit outs or bad baseball luck.
Entering the weekend, the Bees had drawn 421 total walks on the season, easily the highest mark in the Atlantic League. Theyâ€™ve also struck out 743 times this year, which is the second-lowest total in the league, 40 below the next highest team, the Long Island Ducks. New Britain is a middle-of-the-pack squad in the home run department, but its plate discipline provides a major boost in its OPS as a team and has helped carry the offense through tough stretches.
When looking for this trend in action, look no further than the Beesâ€™ 7-4 win over the Sugar Land Skeeters in Thursday nightâ€™s series finale, which clinched a 5-2 series win. The Bees managed seven hits, but drew five walks, helping mask a night where the teamâ€™s 4-6 hitters combined to go 1-for-11 at the plate. On Wednesday, New Britain struck out four times but drew four walks of its own. Big bats like Galvez didnâ€™t have the best series in Texas this week - he finished the series by going hitless in his last nine at-bats - but a mixture of other players stepping up and struggling hitters continuing to put together quality at-bats helped the road trip still finish as an overwhelming success.
Thereâ€™s also Bijan Rademcacher, one of New Britainâ€™s regular middle-of-the-order hitters who labored through a rough first month of the season, but refused to change his approach. Why? He saw hard-hit baseballs finding nothing but the leather in the opponentâ€™s gloves and he believed that luck would eventually turn. On Monday night, Rademacher went 4-for-5 and then hit a home run on Thursday, lifting his batting average to .283 and his OPS to a team-high .886. Back in late May, Rademacherâ€™s batting average sat below .200, but his discipline at the plate kept him, and the team, from sinking completely. Instead, theyâ€™re now in reasonable distance of the top of the Liberty Division.
Itâ€™s always difficult for a slumping ballplayer to get back to his ceiling potential, but above average plate discipline helps them control their floor. By working counts and drawing walks, the Bees have been able to cover their slumps and avoid a crippling losing streak. Instead, theyâ€™ve been doing a lot of winning.
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or firstname.lastname@example.org