Entering the 1993 season John Olerud decided to change his approach at the plate.
In the process he not only helped the Blue Jays win a second straight World Series, but also won the American League batting title.
As part of the Blue Jays celebrations commemorating the 25th anniversary of back-to-back World Series wins, Olerud along with teammates Paul Molitor and Roberto Alomar were featured as bobble heads handed out on Saturday at the Rogers Centre.
The trio finished 1-2-3 in the 1993 American League batting title race.
“I think my focus was really on keeping my hands inside the ball and just having a real short route to the inside pitch,” Olerud recalled. “Not worrying about hitting the inside pitch hard, just getting the barrel to it and I was just very efficient getting the bat to the ball and the outside pitch, I felt I’d have more time to get to it and I didn’t have to fight to get the barrel to that outside pitch.
“I just did a good job of getting barrel to that inside pitch and my timing was good.”
The Seattle, Wash. native finished the season leading the American League in batting average (.363), on-base percentage (.473) and doubles (54). He also posted career highs in home runs (24), RBIs (107), runs (109), and hits (200).
He went on to hit .235 with two RBIs and a home run as the Blue Jays defeated the Phillies to win the World Series.
“As I look back at it, I remember I’d never hit over .300 before that season so I got off to a good start, I was really in a good groove, had a good approach at the plate, was hitting everything hard and I just wanted that to last as long as it could,” Olerud said.
“It felt like it was way better when you’re just trying to hit the ball hard and you’re not thinking about hitting. I was able to do that into August really well.”
Push for .400
Originally drafted by the Blue Jays in the third round of the 1989 draft, Olerud flirted with .400 for much of the ’93 season and was above .400 until late August. Despite the numbers, Olerud says he was never focused on the .400 mark.
“I really don’t think I was thinking .400 at all, I just wanted to hit the ball hard every time up and see where the ball went until about August,” he said. “In August I think I got to the point where I thought, ‘You know what? I’ve been doing this for four months, maybe I can finish up these last two months and do it’.
“Then I struggled a little bit in August and September, relatively speaking, but for the most part, everything was going good for me. You always have ups and downs. My downs just happened to be, you know, after August.
After eight seasons with the Blue Jays, Olerud joined the Mets for the 1997 season and spent time with his hometown Mariners, the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox before retiring in 2005.
Olerud finished a career .295 hitter with 1,230 RBIs and 255 home runs over 17 seasons.
“From my standpoint, couldn’t have drawn it up any better to have a great year offensively, to have a great year as a team, winning the World Series, it just was a dream season,” Olerud said of ’93. “I would say that’s the season I would compare all my seasons to.”