Misner taking advantage of best pitches possible

Misner’s drawn a team-leading 20 walks this season, the ninth-highest mark in the nation.
Missouri junior Kameron Misner awaits a pitch in the annual Tiger Pantry charity game on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018, in which MU softball and baseball faced off.

Missouri senior center fielder Kameron Misner only saw four pitches in his second at-bat of Wednesday’s game against the Arkansas State Red Wolves. None of them were strikes. He jogged to first as “Walk it Out” by Unk blared through the Taylor Stadium speakers. The process is a familiar one for Misner, who leads the team with 20 bases on balls.

Some of his walks can be attributed to pitchers avoiding and pitching around him. Three of those 20 free passes were intentional and coach Steve Bieser believes that some of the walks that are listed as intentional weren’t complete accidents. Bieser stressed the importance of Chris Cornelius, Chad McDaniel and Tony Ortiz hitting well enough behind Misner that pitchers have to attack him more directly.

“Kameron has to be selective,” Bieser said after a win over Alabama A&M, a game in which Misner walked twice. “Until we get some people behind him that he’s gonna get protected, he’s going to have to be a very selective hitter.”

After walking 13 times in the first 13 games of the season, Misner’s walk rate jumped as he’s drawn seven in the last three contests, including consecutive three-walk games against Northwestern and Arkansas State. Through long stretches of not seeing many good pitches, Misner has attempted to keep the same aggressive mindset at the plate, regardless of how many opportunities he gets to swing.

“At first, in the back of my head, you’re like, ‘Oh, they’re not gonna throw you something,’” he said. “Then, they throw it and it kind of catches you off guard, but you have to have the mindset of ‘They’re gonna throw you each pitch.’”

Misner’s philosophy of expecting a strike on every pitch has paid dividends, as the left-handed hitter is batting .393 with a .696 slugging percentage entering conference play. In his at-bat following a walk on Wednesday, Misner launched a 3-1 pitch over the wall in right-center field for a grand slam. It was the first pitch he swung at in the at-bat.

“If they throw a good pitch to hit, I’m gonna try to hit it,” Misner said. “You just got to be more disciplined. You can’t just be all-out for a certain pitch. You just kind of take what they give you in a way.”

Misner doesn’t anticipate having to deal with a lack of hittable pitches for much longer, citing the power arms in the SEC as more likely to challenge rather than avoid him.

“There’s a lot of good pitchers in the SEC,” he said. “And there’s a lot of guys who think their stuff is better than anybody else’s, so I foresee them coming right at me.”

And if pitchers continue to issue free passes?

“If they walk me, then I’ll just steal second,” the team leader in stolen bases said. “Then [I’m] in scoring position.”

Edited by Adam Cole | acole@themaneater.com

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