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Elephant Rumblings: Christian Bethancourt breaking out in June

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MLB: JUN 11 Athletics at Guardians Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Happy Monday, Athletics Nation!

Athletics catcher and first baseman Christian Bethancourt, who got off to a slow start this season after four years away from the majors, has emerged as a top hitter for the A’s over the past two weeks. This isn’t a random occurrence: as Martin Gallegos reported yesterday at MLB.com, Bethancourt took a chance on a swing adjustment at the end of May that has unlocked his considerable power potential.

Through his first 48 games with Oakland, Bethancourt was slashing .224/.283/.294 despite having exit velocity that put him among the top 20 percent of big league hitters. Ahead of the A’s game against Texas on May 28, Bethancourt decided to change his approach and swing for more fly balls.

A few days later, Bethancourt hit his first home run of the season—against Astros ace Justin Verlander, no less. He’s been barreling up consistently since then and was on fire in the just-completed four game series against the Guardians, going 9-for-17 with three doubles and three home runs. The 30-year-old’s exit velocities have surged to an elite level during this breakout spell of the past couple weeks:

Bethancourt left Cleveland leading all A’s hitters in batting average and wRC+, though his 127 plate appearances currently lag well behind everyday starters like Sean Murphy, Elvis Andrus, and Tony Kemp.

  • Bethancourt, 2022: .269/.310/.454, 122 wRC+, 4 HR, 4.7% BB, 20.5% Ks

Bethancourt was signed to a minor-league deal by the A’s last December and attended Spring Training a non-roster invitee. He was made a permanent member of the A’s 40-man roster on April 21 to shore up the team’s catching depth when Stephen Vogt was placed on the IL. He started in all four games against Cleveland, and I have a hunch we’ll be seeing plenty more of him in the near future.

With the A’s a full 20 games under .500, we need Cinderella stories like this to keep hope alive. Keep mashing, Christian!

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