The first eight games of the year were a struggle for Shed Long in Daytona. In those first 36 plate appearances of the year he had just four singles and no extra-base hits. His line was .143/.278/.143.
When players slump to begin the year, or even when they start out on fire, the natural reaction if to overreact in one fashion or another, even though we all tend to know better. Shed Long, too, knows better. But he didn’t let the slow start come into play in his mind according to the excellent podcast Great American Dream that’s all about Shed Long and his journey to the Major Leagues that’s being put together by C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer. If you aren’t listening to it, you need to. It’s been fantastic to this point in time.
It’s a good thing that a slow start didn’t get into his mind, because Shed Long has absolutely torn the cover off of the baseball since April 15th. He’s had 122 plate appearances since then over the span of 28 games. His line since then? .354 batting average, a .393 on-base percentage and a .575 slugging percentage.
Without context, a .969 OPS is all kinds of awesome. But to give it more context of just how good that actually is, we need to understand that the league he’s playing in is known to be the most pitcher friendly league in minor league baseball. The average line right now in the Florida State League is .254/.323/.371 – and that’s historically high for the league. When we toss in that he’s a second baseman and not a corner outfielder or first baseman, it’s even more impressive.
Nick Senzel is also catching fire
Shed Long isn’t the only Daytona hitter that’s caught fire. Nick Senzel has been on an absolute tear over the last three weeks, too. In 20 games played since April 23rd, the 2016 #2 overall draft pick has hit .333/.388/.551 with eight doubles and three home runs. Last night, with Cincinnati Reds General Manager Dick Williams in attendance in Daytona, Senzel went 2-4 with a double and a home run while driving in four. The double was his Florida State League best 14th of the season.