Going oppo shows Adams dialed in

May 22nd, 2016

ST. LOUIS -- All that offseason work and the strain of trying to implement it at game speed during Spring Training has led Matt Adams here to, he says, a place where he feels as locked in as he has at any point in recent memory.

Adams tallied two extra-base hits in a game for the first time this season and matched a career best with three runs scored to help jolt the Cardinals to a 6-2 victory over Arizona on Saturday. Over his last 15 games, Adams has driven in 14 and blasted three home runs.

Particularly notable is that all three of those homers have been hit the opposite way to left or left-center field.

"I think the way everything is going right now is the way I want it to be when I'm in the box," Adams said. "I'm feeling comfortable, and I'm staying on my backside and swinging at good pitches right now."

The flurry of opposite-field contact is an indication of that. Adams entered the season having hit one career home run to the opposite field, according to data compiled by Baseball Reference. This year, not only has he hit three, but he's also driving other hits that way, too. His seventh-inning double on Saturday went off the left-field wall.

In fact, Adams has foiled the scouting report against him by actually putting more balls in play to the left side (16) than he has to the right (15). Another 30 have been hit up the middle. Of those 16 balls he has sent to the opposite field, nine have resulted in hits. That's largely because that side of the field is left wide open for the left-handed-hitting first baseman, who is typically batting against drastic defensive shifts.

"Just watching the ball carry for him to the opposite field, that's pretty special," manager Mike Matheny said. "He's just taking nice passes. Watching that average climb. Watching the ball carry the other way. There are a lot of things going right."

Through his first 38 at-bats of the season, Adams had a .211/.268/.342 slash line, 15 strikeouts and three extra-base hits. It left him uncertain about potential playing time, particularly with the logjam of first basemen on the Cardinals' roster.

But his numbers have been steadily climbing since. After Saturday's two-hit game, Adams' season slash line was up to .291/.344/.477. His strikeout rate is down, his walk rate up, and he's found himself more consistently able to stay on his back foot longer so he can utilize the whole field.

The run of success has earned Adams more starting opportunities (10 in the last 18 games) and may soon give opposing clubs pause as they align themselves defensively against him.

"I was trying to dial in some stuff," Adams said. "I would probably say the last week has been kind of where I want to be."