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BSN Exclusive: The counter intuitive adjustments turning Garrett Hampson around

Drew Creasman Avatar
September 15, 2019

DENVER – Garrett Hampson hasn’t had of the year that he, or any of his teammates, fans and coaches were hoping for.

After a quick rise through the system saw him make a surprise positive impact on the March to 91 when’s a year ago, he looked primed to potential he break out and make himself an in valuable glue guy  on a team with high aspirations.

But just like those aspirations, it didn’t quite work out that way.

In 2018, he broke into the big leagues in a big way, playing in 24 critical games down the stretch, batting .275/.396/.400 for an OPS+ of 103 and showcased impressive, if somewhat shaky, defensive skills up the middle.

In the off season, he was tasked with doing even more to expand his game and get comfortable playing outfield, something he had just begun to do before that season.

He showed up to Spring Training 2019 looking like a fantastic commodity. He was picking up innings at nearly every position on the diamond and he was looking especially good in left and center considering how few reps he had out there.

But once the regular season kicked into gear, he was ambushed by a National League that seemed to have written a book on him.

The Rockies had hoped he would be a key utility man for the club but ended up having to send him back for a few stints in Triple-A. In 91 games this season, he has hit .227/.285/.349 for an OPS+ of 53.

It’s a lost year from a production standpoint, but not from a development one.

Over the last 29 games, he has picked it up for a .260/.313/.425 line which may not seem all that impressive until you realize he is doing it while completely reshaping his game both physically and mentally.

He has worked with hitting coaches Dave Magadan and Jeff Salazar, a tandem players often refer to as “Mags and Sally” to take out an exaggerated leg kick he has maintained for his entire career and place it with a new, and somewhat foreign toe-tap.

“I’m still getting used to it but I can feel it getting there,” he says.

Manager Bud Black heaped a ton of praise on the 24-year-old for being able to implement these adjustments on the fly. “That’s hard. Naturally you want to do what you’ve normally done. To his credit, he has made some changes and worked his ass off to make those changes and I think we are seeing the benefits of that.”

Hampson tells BSN Denver that it all begins with his mental process. Last year was about hanging on for dear life and playing his part for a team that was already doing its thing. This year has been about Hampson carving out his own place as a big leaguer.

“I’m starting to figure out what works for me as far as during the game, routine, before games, taking less swings in the cage, not pressing, trusting in my abilities and being aggressive.”

Wait a minute now, less swings? I was intrigued.

“As a rookie, when you first start to pinch hit, you want to be ready to go, so you hit [in the cages] the first couple innings,” Hampson explained. “Sometimes less swings is more. You don’t want to take too many and be tired in the box when it when it matters, right? So, I’m just learning more what I need to get myself right here.”

One turning point on the mental side came on July 25 in Washington when he hit a screaming line drive home run against Max Scherzer, one of the best pitchers in modern baseball history.

“Wow,” he said as he recalled the moment, “That was pretty cool. First, you’re just like ‘yeah, that’s good for the team!’ It always feels good to hit a home run no matter who it is against but after the game it’s pretty cool to look back on. He’s really good. There’s definitely a reason why his numbers are so good. He knows what he’s doing out there. He’s super competitive. That’s something I can always take with me.”

Hampson is compiling all those moments, the good and bad, into one gigantic learning experience.

“I think anytime you get success and you learned from failures and how to deal with the ups and downs of this game,” he says, “You can just come to the ballpark every day with the same attitude no matter what. And then maybe you hit a home run and it assures you that you’ve got to come back the next day and do it again.”



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