Better mindset leading to better results so far for Mullins

June 15th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Jake Rill’s Orioles Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

BALTIMORE -- The past week has provided the following reminder regarding : The 29-year-old center fielder can still be a spark plug for the Orioles and be a valuable piece in their lineup.

Entering last Sunday, Mullins was batting .170 (30-for-176), the lowest his average had sat since the end of play on April 7 -- when he was 4-for-28 (.143) through Baltimore’s first nine games. From May 24-June 8, Mullins was mired in a 1-for-30 slump.

“It’s been tough,” Mullins said last weekend at Tropicana Field. “But being that it’s a long season, it is a matter of getting your mind right. Once you feel like your mechanics are in sync for the most part, it is a matter of getting that mentally down and trying to not put too much on yourself. Go out there and play a game.”

That mindset has led to improved results for Mullins of late. Over his past six games, he is 6-for-18 (.333) with two doubles, one triple, one walk and five runs scored -- his most recent coming on an elusive slide Friday night that tied the game vs. the Phillies in the 10th inning.

Mullins (whose average is up to .186) has often been out on the field taking early batting practice. But as both he and Baltimore co-hitting coach Ryan Fuller noted, that type of work doesn’t always necessarily translate to results in game situations.

“It would be easy to go in and say, ‘Here’s what’s wrong with your swing,’” Fuller recently said. “We have all the tools to look at his swing and say, ‘Here’s what’s going well when it was going well. Here’s where you’re off.’ But the mental component is huge.

“You want these guys to have confidence, but it’s hard to have confidence when you’re not having results. So the best way to get that confidence back is to take action every day, prove it to yourself in small ways until it shows up on the field.”

Fuller compared Mullins’ early slump to a recent skid by another O’s outfielder -- .

Hays was hitting .140 entering May 22, as he struggled to get going this season. Since then, he’s batting .355 (16-for-45) over his past 15 games, raising his average to .235 and returning to the level of offensive production that Baltimore has come to expect from the 28-year-old.

“That confidence, that belief going out there,” Fuller said. “Regardless of what the scoreboard says -- and that’s a tough thing to look at every day when you see your numbers going down with each at-bat -- but still proving to yourself that, ‘I’m a player that can go out there,’ that’s one of the key reasons why Haysie’s turned around quick.”

Now, the same appears to be happening for Mullins, a 2021 All-Star and Silver Slugger who makes the Orioles better when he’s playing at his full potential.

“I’ve had some good swings that just didn’t fall,” Mullins said. “So it’s been nice to see it hit some grass, hit some dirt and get through.”