BRADENTON -- Few base runners have become as familiar with home plate as Robbie Grossman has this summer.
In other words, things have gone according to plan for the Bradenton Marauders’ outfielder.
Grossman leads the Florida State League in runs (77) and walks (72), numbers that show he is adapted well to his role as a leadoff hitter.
“I knew I was going to hit leadoff at the beginning of the year, and I set a goal to score 100 runs,” Grossman said Friday before rain postponed the Marauders’ game with the Lakeland Flying Tigers. “It’s an individual goal based around the team -- I know I have to get on to get that, and I have to put myself in the right position for the guys behind me.”
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Through 83 games, Grossman has already stolen more bases (18) and drawn more walks than he did in 125 games last season. But more importantly, Grossman, 21, has grasped the idea that batting leadoff isn’t solely about stats.
He wants his at-bat to last as long possible, allowing his teammates to see all of the pitches in an opponent’s arsenal. And if the Marauders are playing home at McKechnie Field, Grossman hopes to give his pitcher some time to catch his breath before heading back out for the top of the second inning.
It’s a more mature approach, all of which Grossman credits to his work in the offseason, when he sought to improve his pitch recognition and his ability to hit with two strikes.
“I wanted to see more pitches, get that pitcher to work,” he said. “I’m learning to trust myself. I’ve always had the ability to do it, it just comes down to trust once you get to two strikes. ... Once you’re there, I’ve got to do a better job of putting the ball in play and seeing more pitches.”
Currently in his second season for the high Single-A Marauders, Grossman has seen all of his stats jump this summer -- his batting average (.283) is nearly 40 points higher and his on-base percentage (.421) is nearly 70 points better. And with 55 games remaining in the regular season, Grossman is on pace to eclipse his goal of 100 runs easily.
All in all, Grossman’s second stint in Bradenton has been an improvement.
“We’ve got great guys around here,” he said. “I’m just having fun with the guys. I lost that a little last year. But I’m really enjoying it, though, this year.”