By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
EVERETT — A little more than two weeks ago Everett AquaSox infielder Kevin Mailloux was in a bit of an offensive funk. That’s when a phone conversation with his father resulted in an inspired bit of advice.
“He said to hit it where they weren’t standing,” Mailloux recounted. “Then all of a sudden they were all going over the fence.”
It may not have been the most technical of batting tips, but it seems to have done the trick.
Over the past two weeks, Mailloux has been the hottest hitter in the Northwest League and is riding a 13-game hitting streak as Everett opens a five-game home stand against Tri-City tonight. Earlier this week, the resident of Tecumush, Ontario was named the league’s Player of the Week for Aug. 9-15.
“It feels good,” Mailloux said about his current hot streak. “I’ve been patient and I’m getting good pitches to hit.”
Mailloux began his streak on Aug. 4 at home against Vancouver. Over the course of the 13 games, he’s batted 22-for-54, good for a .407 batting average. The streak includes four three-hit games.
But what makes the streak particularly special is the power spike. Mailloux came into the stretch with just four home runs in 40 games. During the streak, he has seven dingers, including three two-homer games spanning a four-game stretch from Aug. 6-11. The outburst zoomed Mailloux into the team lead in homers with 11, and he now ranks third in the league.
With four doubles and a triple also thrown into the mix during the streak, Mailloux now has a league-leading 29 extra-base hits and his slugging percentage of .543 ranks second in the league.
Even Mailloux was surprised with his sudden power outburst.
“For the most part I know myself, I’m a doubles hitter, a gap-to-gap guy,” Mailloux said. “For some reason the ball’s going further. I can’t tell you why it’s happening. I’m getting good pitches to hit and I have some great hitters coming up behind me who are lefties (Mailloux is a right-hander), so they have to pitch to me.”
One might wonder whether Everett Memorial Stadium, which is the league’s best home run park, is responsible for the power outburst. However, just four of Mailloux’s seven homers during the streak came at home. And because Mailloux is a right-handed hitter, he’s not as likely to benefit from the short porch in right-center at Everett Memorial.
Mailloux’s hitting streak came on the heels of a dry spell that saw him go 1-for-17. But Mailloux doesn’t credit the turnaround to any tweaking of his swing or change in approach. Instead, it was just a matter of remaining vigilant with the way he does things.
“I haven’t made any adjustments,” he said. “The biggest thing with baseball is that you’ve got to trust what you’ve got. When things go bad, you can try and tweak things, but when you’re doing it in the middle of the season there’s a chance you’ll end up taking a step back.
“I feel like I was having good at-bats all year, it’s just balls weren’t falling in,” Mailloux added. “I’m glad things are going my way now.”
Mailloux’s success at the plate isn’t without precedent. Last season he batted .311 and slugged .570 for Peoria of the rookie Arizona League, being named the league’s all-star second baseman. With the Sox, he was counted on to be a run producer from Day 1.
However, the fact that the Seattle Mariners didn’t pick him until the 45th-round in the 2009 draft out of Canisius College, and that at 24 years old he’s on the older side for the Northwest League, means that Mailloux has little buzz about him as a prospect.
Perhaps his recent surge will change that and grab the attention of the Mariners brass. But that hasn’t been Mailloux’s motivation.
“I’ve never really looked at it that way,” Mailloux said. “I try to keep the game as simple as possible and do what I can to help the AquaSox win every day. I don’t try to reach, I just try to stay within myself and try to help the team win.”