On June 3, Royals rookie right fielder Jorge Bonifacio went 2 for 4, improving his batting average to .288 on the season while helping lead Kansas City to a 12-5 victory over the Cleveland Indians. And then, he ran into the inevitable slump all rookie hitters go through during their first year in the big leagues.
Over the next 12 games, Bonifacio watched as his batting average dipped to .251 as he slashed just .163/.241/.327. Pitchers had a read on Bonifacio, and they made the adjustment. In turn, he made his own.
“They try and figure out other pitch or how to pitch me, but at the same time, I figure out how they pitch me. I try to make an adjustment,” Bonifacio said. “Before the All-Star break, last month, there was pitches up trying to get me to chase. When we came back, I’ve tried and not swing at those pitches. That’s helped me a lot.”
The adjustments Bonifacio made during the slump worked, as he is now the owner of the longest on-base streak by a Royals rookie since Kevin Seitzer in 1987 and the longest streak by a Royal in 2017, reaching in 22 straight games dating back to June 18.
“He’s still at times — and he’s going to get better at it — he still swings at pitches outside the zone,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “He does a really good job of trying to stay in the zone. He can drive the ball up the middle, he can drive the ball the other way.
“He hits the curveball pretty good if it’s in the strike zone. Especially if you hang one.”
Bonifacio, 24, has 11 home runs on the season, which is tied for fifth among American League rookies, and the most by any Kansas City rookie before the All-Star break since 2000.
Though he has not hit a home run since June 25, Bonifacio is on a nine-game hitting streak (11 for 37, .297) entering Wednesday’s contest with the Detroit Tigers. If he picks up a hit on Wednesday, he will be the first rookie to have a double-digit hit streak since Cheslor Cuthbert (12) in July of 2016.
“That’s great, I just go out there and do the best I can,” Bonifacio said. “I’ll hopefully keep hitting like that.”