James Outman has been in quite the slump over the last few weeks. No one really wants to talk about it, but the rookie has been struggling.
After the torrid start to his 2023 season that saw him win the National League Rookie of the Month Award in April, he’s struggled in May.
As of Thursday, Outman is sporting a slash line of .179/.273/.328 in May with two home runs, eight RBIs and 27 strikeouts. In April, he had six home runs, 18 RBIs and 33 strikeouts.
These struggles are not out of the ordinary for a young player, but Outman has really been scuffling, especially with the high fastballs. His manager, Dave Roberts, decided to keep him out of the lineup on Wednesday, and explained his reasoning to Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic.
“Resets are good,” Roberts said. “I think sometimes the thing with young players — and we’ve all seen it — things happen fast here. So where you just run them out there and turn a blind eye, it really spirals fast. So I think if you can get people out of that hot box for a little bit, it slows down. Hence the reset.”
Outman definitely needs a reset, as he’s in the midst of an 0-for-13 slump with six strikeouts. He’s also shown some struggles in centerfield, although he has made some really, really good plays, too.
Either way, his manager wants to help him get through this slump, and remind him that he doesn’t need to try to pull every ball.
“He’s got to remember the big part of the field,” Roberts said. “Because he’s getting crowded. He’s trying to pull the ball too much. If he can get back to the middle part of the field, hit some line drives, some flares over there, I think things will get on track and then pull the off-speed pitches. He’s late on some heaters and out in front of some breaking balls.”
Fortunately for Outman, he’s teammates with one of the best hitters in baseball at using the entire field in Freddie Freeman. Maybe he can spend some time with him talking about hitting, and get back to being the Rookie of the Year candidate we saw in April.
But in the immediate, hopefully this reset is good for Outman, and he can work with his hitting coaches on making the adjustments that come with playing at the big league level. These struggles are nothing out of the ordinary, but the difference between a good baseball player and a great baseball player is how they adjust when the pitchers make their adjustments. Let’s see what Outman can do moving forward.
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