Jake Slaughter shows he still has place in LSU baseball lineup
SEC Country reporter Alex Hickey will answer your LSU Tigers sports queries each weekday in our LSU Question of the Day. Join the conversation by sending your questions via Twitter to @SECCountryLSU, @bigahickey or by email to Alex at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Question of the Day: Thursday, March 1
With the LSU baseball season into its third week, questions about the Tigers’ success and struggles on the diamond are arriving with more frequency.
This one, which Eric Layne submitted on Monday, started becoming more clear on Wednesday night during LSU’s 5-4 loss at Southeastern Louisiana.
Eric wasn’t the only one asking about Jake Slaughter’s status in the LSU lineup at the start of the week. The sophomore came into the week batting below .100. He was the unquestioned weak spot of the LSU lineup.
But despite not getting hits, Slaughter was making contact. He struck out only 4 times in the first two weeks. His misfortune was that the balls flying off his bat had an uncanny knack for finding their way into gloves.
On Wednesday, Slaughter realized that the best way to avoid mitts is to hit the ball over the fence. He went 2 for 4, including a 3-run homer that brought the Tigers back into the game in the eighth inning.
Slaughter’s batting average (.161) and on-base percentage (.235) are way too low, but don’t be surprised to see both climb now that he finally caught a break.
Another factor to consider is the absence of starting shortstop Josh Smith. When Smith is able to return — it is looking like another month without him — he potentially could slide back to his old position at third because Hal Hughes is playing well at shortstop. But without him, the Tigers essentially have two options at third base: Slaughter and Chris Reid.
Reid seems to be the guy Paul Mainieri trusts the most as a late-game pinch hitter. Those guys aren’t easy to find, so it makes sense to keep him there for now.
It is worth remembering that Slaughter opened his career on an eight-game hitting streak before a pronounced slump eventually pushed him out of the lineup for a short spell last season. Perhaps his sophomore season is taking the opposite shape.
To see prior answers to our Question of the Day, we have you covered.