Ted Burton has a lot of expectations to live up to.
First team all-Big Ten last season. Named the top infielder and No. 8 overall MLB Draft prospect in the Big Ten Conference by d1baseball.com. Preseason All-Big Ten.
At the start of the season, Burton, a junior, was expected to be the star of the team. He batted .342 last season, and it was anticipated he would play as well — if not better — this season.
Unfortunately for Burton and Michigan, he started off very slowly. After five games, he was batting just .105 and led the team with ten strikeouts.
A good player would have merely blamed the struggles on a lack of reps and ensured he would get better with time. Burton, though, says it all boils down to his mindset. At the beginning of the season, before opening weekend, Burton said the team motto was to “build.” Building to get better individually and as a team.
“I have been able to stay level-headed through all of the highs and the lows,” Burton said. “It’s kind of the crucial factor for me to perform.”
On the field, Burton also changed his mindset on how he approached hitting.
“I started trying to (win) as many pitches as possible,” Burton said. “Not winning the game but focusing on a smaller aspect and that’s just finding my pitch.”
This slump was not good for himself or the team as he batted second in the lineup, and many of these at bats were with runners in scoring position. Burton found himself falling from second to sixth in the batting order, a demotion in many players’ eyes. For Burton and his teammates, though, they saw the positives to the situation.
“It was a good little change to get Teddy getting moved back a little bit and get him some more RBI chances,” graduate transfer outfielder Joe Stewart said. “We trust everyone in our lineup and everyone can come up with that big hit.”
In Florida, Burton started to see progress. He went 2-3 with two walks and three RBI’s against FIU on Saturday and went 4-5 against FAU during both games, even notching his first homerun of the season. Within one week, Burton increased his batting average from .105 to .343, averaging two more hits per every ten at-bats than the week prior.
“He started off the first weekend this year hitting .050 and now it’s .350 so it’s very early,” Michigan coach Erik Bakich said. “There’s too much volatility in the swings between good performance and bad performance and how the numbers look when you’re two weeks into a season.”
Added Burton: “Baseball is just one of those games where it’s a roller coaster of variety. Nothing in particular. I’m sticking with my approach and maybe see one of those loopers fall and just kind of led to a string of hits, that’s just how the game works.”
And now that things are at least now falling in his favor, Burton can again set his sights on fulfilling those preseason expectations.