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J.J. Hardy: Turning It on for the Milwaukee Brewers

M. S.Correspondent IMay 20, 2009
Manager Ken Macha said that shortstop J.J. Hardy did not play the first two games of May because he wanted Hardy to take some time off and get some rest to find his stroke.
Coming off an April in which Hardy batted .156 (12-for-77) and struck out (19) as many times as he got on base (12 hits and seven walks), the two days off to start May must have done something to the 26-year-old Tuscon native.

In 15 May games, Hardy is batting .333 with two home runs, 16 RBI, a .439 on-base percentage, and the Brewers are 13-2 in games he has played in.

Hardy is enjoying his best season defensively in the field and has made his fair share of inning-saving plays on his way to a .979 fielding percentage which ranks fourth amongst starting shortstops in the National League.

Hardy has also become more accustomed to his role in the sixth spot, hitting less for power and more for average. Just watching Hardy this year, it is evident he is looking to get on base more than he is trying to hit the ball out of the park.

Last year, Hardy would draw a walk every 12.1 plate appearances while this year he is walking every 9.4 plate appearances. 

He is striking out at a higher rate (every 5.8 PA’s) than he did last year (every 6.4 AB’s) but a lot of that can be blamed on his horrid April.  In May, Hardy has seven strikeouts in 54 at-bats, good for a 9.4 average.

A lot of talk about rising prospect Alcides Escobar may have pushed Hardy to work a little harder or he may just have found his stride in the month of May.  Either way, Hardy has stepped up big after an extremely slow start and entrenched himself as the starting shortstop for the Brewers.

Many scenarios have Hardy being moved around the infield, either to second base with Mat Gamel moving to third and Bill Hall to shortstop or to third with Escobar moving to shortstop. While both are unlikely because of Hardy’s excellent arm and vacuum glove, Ken Macha can sleep easy at night knowing Hardy’s bat is finally back.

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