Hobson Heading In The Right Direction

DUNEDIN, FL - K.C. Hobson was always known for his ability to hit nearly as much as for his lack of home run power. The latter has changed in a big way in 2013 as he's already matched his home run totals from the previous two seasons combined, but while the batting average remains low this year, nearly everyone believes he's heading in the right direction as a more complete player.

After struggling through his first two seasons of professional baseball, K.C. Hobson broke out in a big way in 2012 at Single-A Lansing. The left-handed first baseman displayed excellent gap power, as he led the Midwest League with 43 doubles and posted a respectable .273 batting average to go along with ten long balls in 128 games.

That gap power has translated into true home run power this season at high-A Dunedin, as Hobson has hit 16 home runs through 87 games. The flip side is that Hobson is hitting just .215 this season, which the slugger attributes to poor plate discipline earlier in the year.

"My average has been suffering because of me swinging at pitches that I shouldn't swing at early in the count," Hobson admitted. "I was getting myself out early in the count.

"It doesn't come down to the pitching being any better [than at Lansing] or their stuff being any better, because essentially it's not. You're going to face those guys that throw hard and have good sliders or good changeups, but the stuff is the same. It's just that my approach early in the season was different than my approach is now."

Hobson went on to break down how he has matured in his approach at the plate over the course of this season.

"Mostly, I've just figured out that I don't have to swing hard or try to drive the ball into the gaps like I was earlier in the season," he continued. "I was swinging at a lot of pitches that [were in the strike zone but weren't good pitches to hit].

"I talked to Stubby [hitting coach Stubby Clapp] and Meach [manager Bobby Meacham] about this, but just because I can hit those pitches doesn't mean I should swing at them even if they're a strike. Until they get two strikes, I should wait until I get a pitch I feel I can drive.

"Just because it's strike one, so what? If [pitchers] get me out with their pitches in my first at-bat, it doesn't mean they're going to be able to do the same thing in the second at bat. Hitters hit off mistakes and I was trying to make them make a mistake instead of just letting them make a mistake and me reacting to it.

"That's what I've been doing the last month and a half. If they beat me with good pitches, then they beat me with good pitches, but I'm not going to get myself out. I'm going to wait for my pitch or I'm going to wait for a mistake that they make and capitalize on it."

While Hobson has adopted this approach at the plate over the past four-to-six weeks, the results didn't follow initially, as he was mired in a 0-for-28 slump earlier in the month.

However, the former 6th round pick smashed home runs in three straight games against Charlotte two weeks ago and has been a more consistent hitter since then. Hobson has been relieved to see his patience at the plate finally pay off, since he feels that he had been going about his at bats the right way despite not having the numbers to back it up.

"My approach the last month and a half has been really good and I've just been trying to stay with that approach even though there was a span where I didn't have anything to show for it and I wasn't getting hits. But that's just part of the game.

"You get unlucky sometimes and it's unfortunate when you're unlucky and you're hitting .200, but when it finally clicks and things start going your way, it feels a lot better. I've been doing stuff right for a month and a half and now it's just starting to turn around for me."

Hitting coach Stubby Clapp echoed his concern for Hobson's early-season struggles, but has seen him make the appropriate adjustments and believes that he's finally heading in the right direction.

"I think he was just undisciplined with what he was swinging at. That just translated into bad average numbers. Long-story short, a guy with his size and his bat speed, the more consistently he hits a ball, the better the chance it has of leaving the ballpark. That's where he's at now.

"His numbers are starting to climb a little bit and he's putting the ball in play. He's using all the fields now instead of just right field and you're going to eventually see him hit to left field just as well as he does right field because he's got that God-given talent.

"He's been fun to watch the last [few weeks]. He's finally sticking to a process and an approach. He hasn't given in to what he wants to do as opposed to what he needs to do."

While the low batting average this season is not ideal, it shouldn't be a huge concern going forward, as neither Hobson nor hitting coach Stubby Clapp seems to think that the slugger has been trading contact for power or changing his swing. This seems plausible, as Hobson's strikeout rate is essentially the same as it was last season when he hit .273 at Lansing.

"The biggest culprit in Hobson's low batting average is his .198 BABIP, which may simply be the product of some hard hit balls not falling in for base hits. For comparison's sake, Hobson posted a .307 BABIP in 2012 and a .286 mark in 2011.

The more important thing to take away from Hobson's season is how he has progressed and matured in the power department. The California native indicated that he feels stronger as a whole this season, which would explain why the barrage of doubles that he smashed last year at Lansing are suddenly leaving the yard this season at Dunedin.

After hitting just 16 home runs in 1201 plate appearances across more than two seasons at Lansing, Hobson already matched that home run total in just 322 plate appearances this year. If he can maintain his newfound power and catch a few more breaks with his batting average, Hobson's numbers should start to resemble those of a complete hitter.


Future Jays Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nAfter struggling through his first two seasons of professional baseball, K.C. Hobson broke out in a big way in 2012 at Single-A Lansing. The left-handed first baseman displayed excellent gap power, as he led the Midwest League with 43 doubles and posted a respectable .273 batting average to go along with ten long balls in 128 games.
\r\n
\r\nThat gap power has translated into true home run power this season at high-A Dunedin, as Hobson has hit 16 home runs through 87 games. The flip side is that Hobson is hitting just .215 this season, which the slugger attributes to poor plate discipline earlier in the year.
\r\n
\r\n\"My average has been suffering because of me swinging at pitches that I shouldn't swing at early in the count,\" Hobson admitted. \"I was getting myself out early in the count.
\r\n
\r\n\"It doesn't come down to the pitching being any better [than at Lansing] or their stuff being any better, because essentially it's not. You're going to face those guys that throw hard and have good sliders or good changeups, but the stuff is the same. It's just that my approach early in the season was different than my approach is now.\"
\r\n
\r\nHobson went on to break down how he has matured in his approach at the plate over the course of this season.
\r\n
\r\n\"Mostly, I've just figured out that I don't have to swing hard or try to drive the ball into the gaps like I was earlier in the season,\" he continued. \"I was swinging at a lot of pitches that [were in the strike zone but weren't good pitches to hit].
\r\n
\r\n\"I talked to Stubby [hitting coach Stubby Clapp] and Meach [manager Bobby Meacham] about this, but just because I can hit those pitches doesn't mean I should swing at them even if they're a strike. Until they get two strikes, I should wait until I get a pitch I feel I can drive.
\r\n
\r\n\"Just because it's strike one, so what? If [pitchers] get me out with their pitches in my first at-bat, it doesn't mean they're going to be able to do the same thing in the second at bat. Hitters hit off mistakes and I was trying to make them make a mistake instead of just letting them make a mistake and me reacting to it.
\r\n
\r\n\"That's what I've been doing the last month and a half. If they beat me with good pitches, then they beat me with good pitches, but I'm not going to get myself out. I'm going to wait for my pitch or I'm going to wait for a mistake that they make and capitalize on it.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhile Hobson has adopted this approach at the plate over the past four-to-six weeks, the results didn't follow initially, as he was mired in a 0-for-28 slump earlier in the month.
\r\n
\r\nHowever, the former 6th round pick smashed home runs in three straight games against Charlotte two weeks ago and has been a more consistent hitter since then. Hobson has been relieved to see his patience at the plate finally pay off, since he feels that he had been going about his at bats the right way despite not having the numbers to back it up.
\r\n
\r\n\"My approach the last month and a half has been really good and I've just been trying to stay with that approach even though there was a span where I didn't have anything to show for it and I wasn't getting hits. But that's just part of the game.
\r\n
\r\n\"You get unlucky sometimes and it's unfortunate when you're unlucky and you're hitting .200, but when it finally clicks and things start going your way, it feels a lot better. I've been doing stuff right for a month and a half and now it's just starting to turn around for me.\"
\r\n
\r\nHitting coach Stubby Clapp echoed his concern for Hobson's early-season struggles, but has seen him make the appropriate adjustments and believes that he's finally heading in the right direction.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think he was just undisciplined with what he was swinging at. That just translated into bad average numbers. Long-story short, a guy with his size and his bat speed, the more consistently he hits a ball, the better the chance it has of leaving the ballpark. That's where he's at now.
\r\n
\r\n\"His numbers are starting to climb a little bit and he's putting the ball in play. He's using all the fields now instead of just right field and you're going to eventually see him hit to left field just as well as he does right field because he's got that God-given talent.
\r\n
\r\n\"He's been fun to watch the last [few weeks]. He's finally sticking to a process and an approach. He hasn't given in to what he wants to do as opposed to what he needs to do.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhile the low batting average this season is not ideal, it shouldn't be a huge concern going forward, as neither Hobson nor hitting coach Stubby Clapp seems to think that the slugger has been trading contact for power or changing his swing. This seems plausible, as Hobson's strikeout rate is essentially the same as it was last season when he hit .273 at Lansing.
\r\n
\r\n\"The biggest culprit in Hobson's low batting average is his .198 BABIP, which may simply be the product of some hard hit balls not falling in for base hits. For comparison's sake, Hobson posted a .307 BABIP in 2012 and a .286 mark in 2011.
\r\n
\r\nThe more important thing to take away from Hobson's season is how he has progressed and matured in the power department. The California native indicated that he feels stronger as a whole this season, which would explain why the barrage of doubles that he smashed last year at Lansing are suddenly leaving the yard this season at Dunedin.
\r\n
\r\nAfter hitting just 16 home runs in 1201 plate appearances across more than two seasons at Lansing, Hobson already matched that home run total in just 322 plate appearances this year. If he can maintain his newfound power and catch a few more breaks with his batting average, Hobson's numbers should start to resemble those of a complete hitter.
\r\n
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