Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Olt happy with approach, recent results
By Jesse Rogers
ST. LOUIS -- Chicago Cubs third baseman Mike Olt's strange season continues as he leads all National League rookies in home runs (eight) and RBIs (19) despite a .187 batting average.
In fact, next best in the power department is the Washington Nationals' Zach Walters, who has just three home runs. And Olt's eight homers also leads the Cubs despite not playing every day. He's sitting on Tuesday night against Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright.
But for those wondering if Olt's average is ever going to rise there might be hope. He's preached a new approach over the past week and there are some encouraging signs.
"I'm not worried about the hits, they'll come," Olt said after getting two in Monday night's win over the Cardinals. "I was happy with my approach in every at-bat [Monday]. Had a plan going into the game and didn't second guess myself."
Olt is 6 for 23 (.261) since the Cubs hit the road starting with games at U.S Cellular Field last week. And he's hit four home runs over the past six games. Monday's eighth home run was impressive, a blast that went to straight-away right field.
"I didn't hit it great," Olt said. "I knew it was going to be close. I hit one to center better than that."
The one to center was an out but that's one thing we're seeing more out of Olt lately: hard-hit outs. That was his signature in spring training. So maybe the new approach is starting to work. It entails relaxing.
"When you put more pressure on yourself it never turns out well," Olt said.
And if the hits don't keep coming then Olt will join some infamous company of power hitters with extremely low batting averages. Think former Cubs hitting coach Rob Deer. He hit 230 career home runs with a .220 average. One season he hit 25 long balls while hitting just .179. If Olt keeps it up he'll shatter the highest home run mark by a Cub over the last 100 seasons with a batting average under .200, according to ESPN Stats and Information. Todd Hundley hit 12 in 2001 with a .187 batting average. That's exactly what Olt is hitting now.
Olt is already just the 13th Cubs rookie since 1933 to hit at least eight home runs before the All-Star break.
But those aren't marks he's interested in.
"Am I happy I got two hits? Yeah, but I'm just happy with all my at-bats," he said.