Jose Lobaton Has Caught Fire

By David Hill

Jose Lobaton has had an amazing season for the Rays. After making the team in large part because Chris Gimenez had an available minor league option while he did not, Lobaton did nothing to cause the Rays to regret that decision. Through June, Lobaton had produced a .273/.329/.417 batting line with four home runs. After years of mediocre production from the catcher spot in the lineup, Lobaton was able to provide a solid bat in the lineup.

However, from the start of July through the middle of August, Lobaton had a rough stretch, watching his batting average drop down to .244 on August 13th. In his last 23 at bats, Lobaton had recorded three hits. Meanwhile, the Rays offense as a whole had gone cold, and the Rays had begun to struggle.

However, Lobaton has come back to life. After memorably providing a walkoff triple and a walkoff home run in the same series against the Blue Jays, Lobaton has been on a tear. Over his past thirteen games, he has been hitting at a .378/.465/.676 rate, with two home runs and eight RBIs. A major reason for the turnaround is that Lobaton never lost his confidence that he belonged in the majors. Instead of stressing about his performance at the plate, Lobaton has the same demeanor regardless of the type of streak he is on.

"“I’ve got a lot of guys here who helped me with that,” Lobaton said. “When you’re struggling, don’t show it with your body language. Alex Torres told me one day, ‘You’re struggling right now, you’re a little bit down, don’t show anybody that. Be aggressive no matter what. You’re 0-for-3, but be ready to hit.’ That worked for me.”"

One of the ways that the Rays have been able to succeed over the years has been to put players in positions where they have their best chance to produce. The Rays have also done an excellent job over the years of showing confidence in the players they have on the major league roster, getting everyone involved on a regular basis. That confidence may be a big part of why Lobaton has been able to get back to his excellent play from the start of the year.

Jose Lobaton has caught fire again. As the Rays had been struggling on offense lately, this hot streak could not have come at a better time.