Hitting the ball to the opposite field is something former Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez relied on.
When he began to struggle, Ramirez would make it his goal to hit the ball to right field, and thereafter was able to get back on track. Ramirez often hit home runs to right, and when he won the batting title in 2010, a handful of his hits found a hole on the right side of the infield.
Three years later, another Marlins shortstop has linked his success to his ability to hit the ball to the opposite field. Adeiny Hechavarria, acquired in the trade with Toronto, has shown he can consistently hit the ball to right, particularly during an 11 game hitting streak heading into the All-Star break.
"I'm always looking for a way to hit to the middle of the field," Hechavarria said in an interview with the Sun-Sentinel. "If it goes to right field or left field, that's a matter of how you make contact with the ball. But I always try to stay up the middle or to the opposite field and the ball goes where it goes."
As a result of his recent offensive success, Hechavarria raised his batting average to .251 and is getting on base at a .286 clip. Though .251 may not be the number Hechavarria strived to reach, the number is significant only because his average sat at or below .200 for most of the season.
Hechavarria was 19-for-43 to begin the month of July, and as of July 14, had 63 hits, 13 of which were to right field. Manager Mike Redmond has stressed the importance of young hitters hitting the ball to all fields, and has been impressed with Hechavarria's ability to do so.
"It's huge for young guys," Redmond said. "I know when I came up and you start approaching how you're going to throw to young hitters, it's always away. You always start guys away because you always say 'let's make this young guy hit the ball the other way before we start pounding him in.'
Because of his success at the plate, Redmond has been more inclined to put the Cuban shortstop in the leadoff spot. Miami has used different leadoff men throughout the season, though if he can stay hot at the plate, Hechavarria could find himself there often.
"When things get tough, there's a lot of room out there in the middle," Redmond said. "If you can keep yourself back up the middle everything else comes into line."
Hechavarria has noticed that opposing pitchers are pitching him inside in an attempt to prevent him from hitting the ball to right field. He is prepared to adjust with a "hit the ball up the middle" mindset.
"They have a book and know where I hit best and try to pitch me the opposite way," Hechavarria said. "You just have to see the ball well and react, but think up the middle."