Hood pulled over his head, Ryan Mountcastle stood in the visiting clubhouse at Great American Ball Park, searching for the answers he’d been trying to find all month.
The Orioles first baseman had Saturday off, partly because he was “crushed,” according to manager Brandon Hyde, but also to reset towards the end of a month in which he hits .191 with .528 OPS. At this point in the season, those “bumps and bruises” add up – but so do the dips, and Mountcastle has to deal with both.
At this point, with two hits in his last 31 at-bats, Mountcastle pulls “every trick out of the book” in the batting cage or movie room to find a fix. He’s an emotion-based hitter and “it doesn’t feel good right now.”
“But I’m trying to find it,” added Mountcastle.
While the Orioles’ offense has struggled lately, Mountcastle is the biggest piece going quiet. Between May 30 and July 3, the 25-year-old hit 15 doubles, nine homers and drove 1,036 OPS in 21 runs. His extra base hit performance put him in the top league of baseball power hitters in June.
But as the months passed, so did his swing habits. According to Statcast, his follow rate was 35.5% in June. In July, he’s up to 48.8%, meaning he’s been swinging out of zone on nearly half the pitches. That has resulted in 22 strikeouts in 22 games and just one homer this month.
Adding to those errors, his average exit speed has dropped from 96 mph in June to 88.2 mph in July — a league-wide average number, but nowhere near the 90-plus speeds often needed for extra-base hits will.
“I’m just missing pitches that he should be catching and then chasing a little too much,” said assistant hitting coach Ryan Fuller. “Being a little too aggressive, especially early in the counts. Pitchers are swinging on out-of-zone pitches and starting to understand that he’s going to go up there and be really aggressive. They nibble a bit, swing for a ball, and then you’re in a hole.”
With his Saturday off, Mountcastle wanted to balance two approaches. In a way, he needed a “mental break,” a breather to hit the plate. But he also planned to study video with Fuller and try to locate some discrepancies with his findings.
They go through this film daily and Fuller wants Mountcastle to slow down and be more selective on the record.
“When you’re going through a tough time, you want to get out of it as soon as possible, and that sometimes makes you chase things that you wouldn’t normally do when you’re feeling good,” Fuller said. “Human nature, you start pushing and you want it to be over as soon as possible, which sometimes makes a situation worse.”
That’s where Mountcastle now finds himself, though he finds solace in helping the Orioles in other ways. His field at first base didn’t take a dip during his slump on the plate, and he drove a run with a sacrificial fly on Friday to extend Baltimore’s lead in an eventual 6-2 win.
Nevertheless, he was “not satisfied with my performance”.
But with a chuckle, Mountcastle pointed out that baseball is a difficult sport — and batting is the hardest part. He’s been here before, and he expects to be here again. But he wants to make the most of the time in between.
“I just have to go through with it,” said Mountcastle. “Life goes on.”
https://www.ocregister.com/2022/07/31/stuck-in-a-slump-orioles-ryan-mountcastle-is-pulling-every-trick-out-of-the-book-to-find-his-form-again/ Orioles’ Ryan Mountcastle is stuck in a crisis and ‘pulls all the tricks from the book’ to get back in shape – Orange County Register