"His first half started out a little slow," Lansing Manager Mike Redmond said. "From the All-Star break on, he's been doing very well. I think he's done a nice job. I heard a lot of nice things about him coming into the season and it's nice to see him turn it around in the second half and really improve."
"It was just one of those things that I had to get away from, put it behind me," Hobson said. "Now I'm hitting and my defense is getting better too."
Since the break Hobson is hitting .268, which is up from his pre-break average of .252. Still, he's yet to take his power into games as for the season he's hit just three home runs.
"Now obviously, he's a guy with a lot of power and we'd like to see him hit more home runs," Redmond said. "I think that's something that's going to come over time. Being one of the few lefties we have in the lineup, he sees a lot of curveballs and changeups and that's a challenge for him. He's done a nice job and it's good to see him improve."
Though his power hasn't shown up in games this year, it's clear that Hobson has taken some strides at the plate in the second half.
"K.C. has done a really good job in the second half," Lansing Hitting Coach John Tamargo, Jr. said. "Squaring the ball up, hitting some doubles, driving the ball in the gap, and having productive at-bats.
"He's done a really good job with his work, coming out everyday and getting the things that he needs to get to get better. I'm really pleased with what's going on here in the second half with K.C."
His improved play in the second half doesn't appear to be a case of a physical adjustment, but rather a change in mentality and work ethic.
"I got my confidence back a little bit," Hobson said. "I don't wanna say I'm more focused, but I'm more determined in the way I play and go about my work.
"My routine changed a little bit. At home, I started going into the cage before games which I hadn't done the entire first half. I was getting here a little earlier. I don't want to say I was working harder, but I was working smarter, my routine was better and I was more focused on my work."
It's fairly common for players in the lower levels of the minor leagues to tinker with their approach as the purpose for the minors is for the players to learn the game.
"I think guys learn what they need to do on a daily basis," Tamargo said. "When you play 140 games for the first time, you have to get your routine down and that's part of my job as a hitting instructor.
"Just trying to find some stuff that worked for him [in the first half] to give him confidence. One thing that builds is confidence and when you're doing drills and seeing success on the field it builds confidence. A confident hitter in the box is a dangerous hitter."
Confidence seems to be the key for Hobson as when he was struggling he looked lost without it, but has since regained his his stroke and his confidence.
"I don't like to take my at-bats into the field, but in the first half I was so frustrated that it was carrying over," Hobson said. "I'd take it into the field and then after an error I'd take that into the next at-bat. It went both ways, I was really just frustrated."
"Yeah, confidence made a big difference," Tamargo said. "K.C. is a confident kid, but like anybody if you fail, and fail, and fail, that confidence is going to be drained out of you. But, when you get that confidence going again and hit some doubles and hit some home runs, and having good at-bats that confidence will come back."
A major confidence booster for Hobson was his walk-off home run in extra innings in the first game of the second half.
"Sometimes the second half can be a fresh start with three or four days off," Redmond said. "You kind of sit there and evaluate yourself and it's not always pretty."
Hobson may have beat himself up during the break, but he's come back energized with improved play not only offensively but also in the field.
"Something that goes overlooked with him is his defense, he's really been a lot better with his defense in the second half," Redmond said. "We've worked hard getting him a lot of ground balls and getting him comfortable. He's worked hard and it's nice to see a guy improve."
"Defensively, I just needed games and experience over there," Hobson said. "Getting more than 100 starts over there, I get to see the ball off the bat and I'm able to read it better now. As I progress, the more experience playing first is going to help me."
Now that his first half is squarely in his rear view mirror, he feels like he can have fun playing baseball again.
"It's been a lot of fun," he said. "Getting out there and having success like I wasn't dong in the first half, it's really brought more fun to the game for me. We still have 20 or so more games left, let's see if I can keep it going."
The Lugnuts do have some games left before the playoffs and even though the team has clinched a playoff berth Hobson plans to play out the remaining games.
"He's come into my office before to tell me that he wants to play the rest of the games and that's good," Redmond said. "As a manager, you want guys who want to play.
"He wants to be out there so he can continue the process of learning and work on his defense and all the things that he needs to work on to get to the next level. As a manager, I love it because I want guys that want to play."
Not only does Hobson want to play, but he's focused on finishing out the season strong.
"He's been working hard, the effort has been there all year," Redmond said. "We always want to see guys finish strong and he's definitely a guy that's finishing strong.
"That's the great thing about baseball. It's such a long season, you have time to improve and come out of it. He took the second half as a challenge and he's had a tremendous second half and it's going to be fun to watch him finish up. Hopefully, he'll get some big hits for us in the playoffs."
Hobson Finishing In Strong Fashion
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