Instead of driving down to Bluefield today (which, in itself is a long story), I was taking a break from watching something random on Netflix (because we all need to take breaks from Netflix, folks) when this wayward Tweet from Bob Elliott crossed my computer screen:
— bob elliott (@elliottbaseball) August 17, 2015
You mean #MattVP? THE Matt Hague who is leading the International League in hitting, OBP and several other offensive categories?
We talked to Hague last week in Buffalo, and asked him about what he had to do to get back to the Bigs. He was obviously very excited about the possibility of getting back to the majors but he was definitely cagey in his reponse, as most players are (click the link to hear the whole podcast).
Hague has done nothing but rake as a member of the Blue Jays’ organization since being picked up on waivers from the Pittsburgh Pirates last year. In the majors, he hasn’t had any playing time to speak of since 2012 when he hit .229/.270/.257 in 74 plate appearances with the Pirates but a lot has changed since then. In our interview he talked a lot about learning from failure and really seems convinced that his new approach which involves committing to his own plan at the plate has really turned things around.
Hague also credited the change of scenery as helping to keep him loose. He was hitting a solid .267/.365/.448 with the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate, the Indianapolis Indians, when he was claimed on waivers almost exactly one year ago (August 18, 2014). Coming to Buffalo, he hit .377/.411/.566 over 13 games with the Bisons and had a decent season in the Dominican Republic, hitting .289/.355/.336 in 42 games down there.
In 2015, Hague has lit things up, hitting .348/.427/.482 with 30 doubles, a triple and 10 home runs in 121 games for the Buffalo Bisons. He’s almost assured to have his first season with a .300 batting average since his first year in Triple-A, back in 2011 when he hit .309.
Hague, who has played almost equally at first and third base (57 games at first and 60 at third), could very well be a Danny Valencia-like option: a right-handed hitting threat with occasional home run power (but more extra-base pop) who has a good eye and can make something happen when he comes to bat. He’s not as versatile as Valencia (he has only played one game of outfield in his minor league career) but his ability to spell Josh Donaldson could come in handy if he’s called up.
Hague also on the 40-man roster already and no space would have to be made for him. He’s used his last option this year and can be sent back down if necessary.
Is this #MattVP’s second chance at the big leagues?
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