Trevor Story: Hey, bat.
Bat: Hey, Trevor. How are you?
TS: I’m OK, bat. I’m OK.
Bat: Just OK?
TS: Yeah, bat. This year hasn’t been easy. 2016 feels like it happened so long ago. Remember those seven home runs I hit in my first six games? The 27 home runs I hit in 97 games? Ah, the halcyon days!
Bat: I was still part of a tree then. I heard the other trees talk about your home runs, though. They said you were on pace to hit 40 of them. With a batting average in the .270s. Before…
TS: Before the thumb injury. I know.
Bat: What’s changed for you this year?
TS: Well, I’m striking out more than I did last year. I’ve gone down whiffing or looking in nearly 35 percent of my plate appearances. That’s the 13th-highest rate out of anyone who’s gone to the plate 100 times. And when I do put the ball in play, I’m popping out at a much higher rate. My fly ball percentage jumped from 47.1 percent last year to 59.6 percent this year. At least that’s what our stats guy told me.
Bat: Yeah, I noticed that on FanGraphs.
TS: You read FanGraphs?
Bat: Of course. Bats love FanGraphs. It’s well known.
TS: I just … I just didn’t know bats knew how to read. Or use the internet.
Bat: Trevor, it’s 2017. You can’t just assume I’m incapable of thought because I’m made of wood.
TS: I can’t?
Bat: No, open a book sometime. Jeez. I know this year’s been tough for you, but I think you’ve done great work in the field. And since you returned from the shoulder injury on May 24, you’ve made strides at the plate, too.
Bat: Really. The range you’ve shown at shortstop is impressive. Remember how much ground you covered to get to this Michael Brantley dribbler up the middle last week?
Bat: I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that you’ve been one of the best defensive shortstops in all of baseball this season. You rank sixth at your position in Defensive Runs Saved.
TS: You weren’t joking — you do love FanGraphs.
Bat: Keep up. Wanna know something else I learned from fiddling around with the site’s adjustable splits tool?
TS: Hit me. Not literally. Do bats know about idioms?
Bat: What do you take me for? Here’s your slash line in the 33 games you played prior to going on the 10-day DL with left shoulder inflammation:
Now here’s your slash line in the 17 games since you came back from the injury:
You’ve managed to raise your season-long batting average to .203 — above the Mendoza line. Your power numbers still are nowhere near where they were in 2016. But it’s progress.
TS: Yeah, I guess it is.
Bat: Don’t feel down. There’s still plenty of time for you to turn things around. Plus, you guys are winning.
TS: You’re right. You’re right.
Bat: Oh, and Trevor — there’s one last thing I wanted to tell you.
TS: What’s that?
Bat: I love your walk-up song. When I hear that saxophone laid over the electronic part … it feels like someone’s pouring honey down my ear holes.
TS: You have ear holes?
Bat: There’s still so much you’ve got to learn about me.
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