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April 30, 2013

Fantasy Freestyle

Nate McLouth's Renaissance

by Jason Collette


The start to Nate McLouth’s 2013 is one of the more surprising stories in the season’s opening month. The 31-year-old outfielder has a .351/.451/.486 triple-slash line and has already amassed eight stolen bases. That is a stark difference from a guy with a .251/.339/.423 career slash line who has never stolen more than 23 bases in any season. McLouth was a productive fantasy player from ages 25 to 27 before falling into a tailspin in 2010 that continued into 2012. Since landing in Baltimore, McLouth has hit .290/.373/.449 in 325 plate appearances, once again becoming a relevant fantasy option in all formats.

How has he gone from a spare part to a vital cog of a major-league offense?

In watching some film and asking around, the general consensus seems to be McLouth has shortened up his swing a bit. It cannot be something as simple as that, because a simple Google search on his name and swing gives many stories of his “new swing”:

3/25/11 - A piece by MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reviews how McLouth was being too passive at the plate and how the outfielder and his hitting mentor, Bill Peterson, were looking for him to be more aggressive in the coming season.

5/3/12 - A piece by Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette mentions how Clint Hurdle and hitting coach Gregg Ritchie worked with McLouth to get his hands to ball quicker in order to help him stop getting beat on pitches that should not have been getting the better of him.

9/18/12 - Steve Melewski of MASN wrote a piece in which McLouth credited the work he did with minor-league batting coach Denny Walling and minor-league hitting coordinator Mike Boulanger for helping him.

Over the course of 18 months, McLouth worked with five different people who each helped him make different changes to his swing to get him back to where he was in his prime. That rebuilding process has taken some time, but the end result since resurfacing with the Orioles has produced excellent results. The results have changed, but has the process?

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