Andy MacPhail didn’t mince words when asked about Luke Scott during a fan forum at FanFest. He didn’t try to put a positive spin on Scott’s big ups and downs as a hitter.
“He is the streakiest hitter I’ve ever been around in my life. There was a three-month stretch where he absolutely carried us. As our guys say, it doesn’t matter who is on the mound, when he is going good he can hit anybody.
“Our job is, and we think we can do it, is to get him to not have the peaks and valleys to the extent that he does. The way the lineup is going to shape up, we’re going to need some left-handed power towards the back of the lineup.”
Before the All-Star break last year, Scott was a potent power hitter, batting .305-18-51 in just 233 at bats. His OPS then of .976, if he could have maintained it all year, would have been second best in the AL.
But after the break, he hit just .208-7-26 with an OPS of only .667. He has streaks where it looks like he’ll never get another hit and had one week last May where he homered six times.
“I wish I could be consistently good all the time, but this game is a lot like life. You only have control over so much. You have control over how you prepare and the effort you put out. There are so many things to deal with, it’s a mental game,” the 31-year-old Scott said.
“I have a tendency to overanalyze things too much. I live in that video room sometimes and it gets to the point where they lock me out.
“I’m very prepared but as for the results, no one can force that in this game.”
Dave Trembley echoed the comments of MacPhail and Scott.
“When Luke is going well, he can hit anyone,” Trembley said. “For me the key is when he’s hitting to left-center field versus left-handed pitching. When he’s hitting the ball hard that way, he is locked in.
“He’s got to try and balance it out and stay away from those two for thirties. I think you’ll see a different approach out of him this year. He’s got an opportunity to be a guy that can knock in a lot of runs and hit 30 home runs.”
For the year, Scott hit .258-25-77 with an OPS of .828 and he led the O’s in homers in 449 at bats.
O’s 2009 leaders, at bats per every home run:
18.0 - Luke Scott
23.8 - Nolan Reimold
24.9 - Adam Jones
28.0 - Felix Pie
33.1 - Aubrey Huff
35.6 - Nick Markakis
Scott presents a problem for Trembley. How does he know, if Scott is slumping, when to sit him and when he might be heating up, to get him back in the lineup?
Even with a poor second half, Scott led the team in homers, with nearly 200 fewer at bats than players like B-Rob and Markakis and only Nolan Reimold had a higher OPS.
Should the O’s stick with Luke on a regular basis and what can they do to help him become a less streaky hitter?