Blake Dean’s standards at the plate are set higher than most baseball stars. As catcher Micah Gibbs put it, “Dean’s cold is most people’s hot.”
Through 32 games, the senior first baseman is batting .336 with 44 hits and 30 runs in 131 at bats. It’s a good line for most, but not Dean - the most touted hitter in LSU’s recent history.
“I am as cold as a heart attack right now,” Dean said. “It is not where I want to be. I don’t feel like I am contributing. If I was hitting good on Sunday [versus Auburn], maybe I win a ball game for us.”
After going 2-for-4 with an RBI batting from the cleanup spot in last Friday night’s win, Dean went a combined 1-for-9 with just one run, hitting from the three-hole in Saturday’s loss and the two-hole in Sunday’s loss.
“I thought Friday night he swung the bat really good,” said head coach Paul Mainieri. “He hit one off the wall and had some good at bats, and I thought this was it. Then the next two days weren’t so great.
“I wish I knew what the magic dust was, because I would be sprinkling it on him.”
For Dean, now in his fourth season with the program, getting back on track means continuing on with the ways things are. And for a hitter whose career has been defined by up and down spurts at the plate, the virtue Dean cherishes most is patience.
“This time last year I was hitting around .215 with two home runs,” said Dean, who is batting .336 with four home runs this season. “All it takes is one swing. I don’t know what it is, but when I do hit a home run, the hits and home runs start to come. I don’t worry about it.
“If it gets to the point where I am not contributing at all, I will start to worry a little more.”
When the hot streak kicks in, watch for a rise in production from the rest of the lineup.
Ask anyone around the LSU baseball program and the answer remains the same. When Blake Dean heats up, everyone heats up.
“I have been here for four years now, so the guys know what I am capable of,” Dean said. “When I go and hit the ball and am locked in, guys feed off that.”
Gibbs, currently the hottest bat on the team, hitting .403 with 48 hits and five home runs, is one of the names that often feeds off Dean’s production.
“I get the best seat because I am on deck a good bit when he is up there,” Gibbs said. “When he gets hot, it is pretty scary. I know I am giving him a high five because he just hit a home run, or driving him in because he just got onto base.”
While Dean is quick to call out his performance from the plate, the lack of production has yet to put the team in a tough spot.
“I know I need to do more to give this team a better chance of winning, but we are still somehow pulling games out,” he said.
Though LSU most recently dropped a weekend series at Auburn for the first time since 1997, Mainieri remains hopeful of what the future – with Dean at his best – holds for the defending National Champions.
“The reality is that we are 26-6 and 8-4 in the league without having seen the best of Blake Dean,” he said. “We have won without him having a huge impact, and he is the type that usually has a huge impact when we win. Once he starts having that, we will be okay.
“I keep feeling it.”