Michael Stefanic struggled in his first taste of Major League action last season, but now looks like a completely different player in his second stint with the Los Angeles Angels.
After hitting just .197/.279/.230 a year ago, Stefanic is batting a much improved .309/.397/.382 in 23 games entering play Thursday. The 27-year-old has also drawn seven walks in comparison to seven strikeouts.
Stefanic has had three different stints with the Angels this year after hitting a solid .365/.463/.467 with 20 doubles, five home runs and 62 RBI in 99 games for Triple-A Salt Lake.
Stefanic attributed his success to being more comfortable with the Angels and sticking to the same approach, per Jeff Fletcher of the Southern California News Group:
“Last year was kind of my acclimation period and this year I feel a lot more comfortable,” Stefanic said. “Just knowing myself and being able to bring a consistent approach, day in and day out, and sticking with it. Not focusing too hard on the results. Obviously, it’s a long season and I feel like I’ve shown consistently in the minor leagues that my approach works. So just having that mindset of sticking to that and letting the results happen. It’s been able to free my mind a lot better.”
In addition to his success at the plate, Stefanic has improved defensively to the point where Angels manager Phil Nevin feels comfortable playing him at third base:
“I don’t think we could have put him at third last year,” Nevin said. “He’s worked on his arm strength, his arm stroke. His hands have gotten better. His feet have gotten a little better. There’s still room obviously to get better. But I like what I’m seeing so far.”
In the last week alone, Stefanic has made a diving stop at third base, and he additionally turned an impressive double play with shortstop David Fletcher.
While he has occasionally filled in at third base, Stefanic’s natural position is second base. His ability to play multiple positions at a high level has been appreciated, and could perhaps help him earn a spot on the Angels’ Opening Day roster next year.
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