Hitting becomes routine for Rodgers

May 20th, 2024

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

SAN FRANCISCO -- Rockies second baseman has been quietly collecting hits for the last three weeks.

Rodgers batted .191 through the first 20 games of this season. But in 22 games starting on April 23, Rodgers has batted .314. He went 0-for-4 in Sunday’s 4-1 loss to the Giants, but he has not gone hitless in consecutive games during the current hot streak.

“A lot of it goes back to my routine work -- staying in the middle of the field, being short to the ball, and going from there,” Rodgers said.

How far can Rodgers go from here?

Rodgers missed most of last season with a dislocated left shoulder that he sustained in Spring Training. In 2022, Rodgers hit .078 in April, but ignited over his next 30 games to the tune of .344 with six home runs, nine doubles and 25 RBIs.

The next step for Rodgers is slugging. All but four of his 27 hits over the past 22 games have been singles, with one home run and three doubles. Rodgers had 15 home runs in 2021 and 13 in ‘22, but manager Bud Black saw enough in those seasons to plan his ‘24 lineup with Rodgers as cleanup hitter.

The lineup plan was scuttled, mainly because the season-opening Nos. 2 and 3 hitters, Kris Bryant and Nolan Jones, struggled at below .200 before missing time with back injuries. (Both could re-enter the lineup as early as Tuesday against the Athletics, after they performed Minor League rehab assignments with Triple-A Albuquerque.)

Rodgers -- whose slow start is the reason for his current slash line of .261/.307/.340 -- has been moving around the order and has found his hit tool, and Black believes Rodgers can discover power.

“You want to believe there is a next level of impact,” Black said. “Usually it comes when you get that confidence in how you’re swinging. The bat speed is starting to show. He’s whistling some swings and getting some hits.”

Rodgers’ spray chart shows that six of his seven doubles have gone either to right field or to the right-center gap.

His lone triple was to straightaway center.

Rodgers’ homer -- a grand slam on April 23 at Coors Field against the Padres’ Michael King, on an 0-2 fastball left high and inside -- was a pull shot.

Even without many extra-base hits, Rodgers believes there is value to hits -- and that consistent impact can come as long as he stays with his plan.

“Usually, if the pitch is moving in to me, I’m not trying to cheat and pull it -- that’s when you get topspin grounders,” Rodgers said. “I just feel like that’s not me. I can shoot it the other way. That’s the overall goal, to shoot it and stay in the middle. Certain guys who have some air on their heaters [fastballs at the top of the zone], those are the guys I think I can manipulate pulling the balls a little better. But I don’t necessarily like cheating because that’s not me.

“Home runs are accidents at the end of the day -- If I catch one out front hanging or if I catch the heater elevated a little bit. I’m not stressing out on how low the launch angle is right now. I know I’ll start getting balls in the air soon.”