Baseball is a funny game. Just ask Brendan Rodgers.
He was the worst qualified hitter not just on the Colorado Rockies but in MLB in April. Since then, he has arguably been his team’s best hitter. Baseball is a funny game.
For the opening month, he slashed an abysmal .078/.172/.098 with zero home runs, three runs scored, and just a lone RBI over 14 games.
Over his next 14 games? He has arguably been the Rockies best hitter.
When the calendar turned to May, something clicked for Rodgers who has hit .362/.373/.596 with a pair of homers, six doubles, and 16 RBI since.
“I’ve made some minor adjustments and I feel good right now,” he told me. Clearly.
Predictably, Rodgers can’t explain exactly how or why it happened so fast, but he knew that the mental battle was going to need to be fought long before any little physical changes would pay dividends.
“My first 80 at-bats were probably the worst 80 at-bats I’ve had in my whole career, including the minors,” he says. “”But I know it’s a long process and a long season. You can’t get down on yourself. You have to believe in yourself. You have to go into the box thinking positive thoughts.”
Imagine that. You’ve worked your ass off for a month and have nothing to show for it and you have to step right back into your living nightmare thinking happy thoughts. Add in the fact that hitting a baseball is already one of the single toughest things to do in all of pro sports.
But, somehow, Rodgers managed to do it.
Having a short memory has long been considered one of the best attributes a baseball player can have. You need to be able to get over mistakes because there’s going to be an opportunity to make another one and another one if you don’t pick your head up. We can see this in practice with the Rockies defense lately.
But for Rodgers at the plate, there is no trick or special superstitious routine that he uses, just a philosophy he has developed throughout his life.
“I’ve trained myself to just flush it,” he says. “Even just inside of one game if I have a really bad at-bat or a strikeout out, I just try to exit it instantly.”
Without needing to be sent back down to the minors to work on things, something plenty of young players over the years have done, Rodgers managed to address his issue internally with his devotion to not dwelling on the past.
He even tries to take it to extremes.
“I don’t even remember what I did yesterday to be honest with you,” he says with a laugh. “I think I got a hit and a walk, two positives for me. The other three at-bats I forgot about.”
Making outs is just a part of baseball, he says, and you can’t obsess over the ones that didn’t go your way. Even if they all stack up over consecutive weeks.
For now? “I got my confidence back,” he says. “I’m just not trying to do too much in the box which is where I usually get myself into trouble. It’s all about having short term memory and focusing on the next at-bat and the next pitch.”
The least experienced member of the regular starting lineup, Rodgers has shown his Colorado Rockies that bad times don’t have to last. He has shown how small the margin can be between being terrible and being dominant.
But most of all he has shown how important the mental part of the game is in order to achieve success.
Baseball is a funny game. “You have to believe in yourself,” says Rodgers. Even if nobody else does.