Manager Buck Showalter, who had the 23-year-old in the lineup as the designated hitter, said before the game that these kinds of growing pains are hard to take, but are part of the process of playing at big league level.
Showalter said Baty is handling this stretch “as well as can be expected, but it’s tough for him.”
“When you’ve done something real well for your whole life,” the skipper continued, “I know the doubt, I remember for me I reached a level where we all remember where it was a challenge. And he’s going through that now. And he can do this, he’s shown that.
“It’s just every young player goes through it because we run ‘em through quickly up the flagpole, we don’t, the environment does. And people want him to be good so it’s normal.”
Baty, who entered the 2023 season as the No. 33 prospect according to Baseball America and No. 17 according to Baseball Prospectus, is slashing .217/.286/.333 for a .620 OPS and a below-average 72 OPS+ through 85 games.
After a hot start at Triple-A Syracuse where he began the season slashing .400/.500/.886 with five home runs and 15 RBI in nine games, Baty continued that to the big leagues where he posted a .333 average and .915 OPS through his first 13 games. But the youngster has cooled off since with a.197 average and .567 OPS.
And in 20 games since the All-Star break, Baty has just nine hits in 67 at-bats with a .134/.194/.269 slash line for a .463 OPS. He also has 24 strikeouts and just five walks.
For the manager, helping Baty navigate this stretch has been about empathy and keeping a watchful eye for any bad habits.
“I try to be, it’s not even tough love, it’s just the right empathy,” Showalter said. “You try to be an empathetic ear, not a sympathetic one. But he hasn’t embraced anything negatively. But you’re always looking for if there is that, you keep an eye out for it, you know, if it’s affecting him.
“The challenge up here is emotional and mental, which drives a lot of physical. The concentration level to play up here [is greater]. I think a lot of us [give scrutiny] to every little thing they do. The things that don’t happen in Binghamton and St. Lucie and Syracuse, they happen here. You can’t simulate that, you have to experience it.
“He’ll be all right.”
The skipper added, “What is it? The things that don’t kill ya …” before a reporter chimed in with “makes you stronger.”
“Yeah, we’ll see if that’s true,” Showalter said.