BRISTOL - Brandon Miller isnâ€™t worried about his stats, even as he sits atop the leaderboard as the FCBLâ€™s top hitter.
Miller, who entered Mondayâ€™s game against the Nashua Silver Knights hitting .405, has more important things to worry about - mainly, winning.
â€śIâ€™ve always been a guy who stays away from the stats because you can get caught up in your head,â€ť Miller said. â€śItâ€™s not a good thing to do. Iâ€™m just gonna keep going out and swinging it and keep doing what Iâ€™ve been doing, and hopefully let the cards lay where they fall.â€ť
Miller has been one of the players at the heart of the Bluesâ€™ recent surge from a 5-10 record to 13-11, thanks in part to the stats he is trying hard not to worry about. On Sunday, he lasered a bases-clearing, go-ahead double - as part of a 2-for-5 day - in the seventh inning of the 5-3 victory over the North Shore Navigators that sent Bristol to its eighth win in its last nine games.
On Saturday, he finished 4-for-4, leading the Blues to another victory with a home run and a double, that after switching out his bat.
â€śThe new batâ€™s been doing me well,â€ť Miller said. â€śItâ€™s a solid bat so Iâ€™m gonna continue to use it as long as I can.â€ť
Joining Miller among the league leaders in batting average heading into Monday were leadoff hitter Austin White (.387) and shortstop Zeke Diamond (.338), making it three Blues players enjoying time in the top six of each statistical category.
White (.539) was first in the league in on-base percentage, fourth in slugging percentage (.573) and fourth in OPS (1.112). Heâ€™s been one of the most consistent Blues players during his 24 games played, and heâ€™s earned a reputation as being perhaps the best centerfielder and best leadoff man in the FCBL.
â€śAs a leadoff hitter, youâ€™ve just got to be very comfortable knowing your job is to take pitches and see pitches, to see if his offspeedâ€™s working or his fastballâ€™s running or anything,â€ť White said.
Whether the lefty White draws one of his league-leading 25 walks or heads back to the dugout after a strikeout, which heâ€™s done just 10 times this summer, he is often seen discussing with the next batter what to expect from the opposing pitcher.
â€śIt just helps them to keep them calm to know they donâ€™t have to tense up in their at-bats and know they donâ€™t have to chase pitches,â€ť White said.
White has stayed successful since day one with the Blues, and Miller has been the same way since joining the team six games into the season. Diamond, however, has been the opposite.
After starting the season 0-for-9, reaching base just one time in the first three games, the struggles continued as he held just a .219 average through 10 games. But Diamond has raised his average by more than 100 points since, topping out at .352 following a 5-for-6 day in Saturdayâ€™s win.
â€śIâ€™ve been staying back on the ball,â€ť Diamond said. â€śI was just lunging at the ball [in the beginning of the season].â€ť
Diamond is coming off a successful freshman season at Emory University, where he was the teamâ€™s third-leading hitter at .358. Heâ€™s been able to rebound from the rough start to the summer to become the Bluesâ€™ third-leading hitter by staying patient.
â€śI just fixed small things, adjusted slowly and didnâ€™t change too much,â€ť Diamond said. â€śOtherwise, youâ€™re just gonna mess up something else. [I was] getting in my own head a little bit. It was rough when you start out going 0-fer for the first few games after having a good season.â€ť
Heâ€™s been thriving of late, and that includes sparking the Bluesâ€™ comeback on Sunday by laying down a two-out, one-strike bunt in the fifth inning, reaching first base on an error. The Blues were trailing 2-0 at the time, and after Diamond reached, JT Mounce roped a double to score Diamond, and White hit a game-tying single. It all precluded Millerâ€™s game-changing hit.
â€śThe bunt has been huge for Zeke,â€ť Miller said. â€śHe bunts like once a game. They know itâ€™s coming, but they canâ€™t defend it because he puts it in a great spot. Heâ€™s one of the best bunters Iâ€™ve ever seen. If he keeps doing that, thereâ€™s no way heâ€™s getting taken out of the lineup.â€ť
Zack Carpenter can be reached at (860) 973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org