Hunter thriving in second spot for Angels

Hunter thriving in second spot for Angels

Hunter thriving in second spot for Angels
LOS ANGELES -- During the last seven days, Angels outfielder Torii Hunter is statistically the best hitter in the Major Leagues.

Over the last five games, Hunter is leading the league with a .500 average (12-for-24). He has nine RBIs, three home runs and a double during that span. The only other batter with more hits than Hunter is the Braves' Michael Bourn, who has 14 hits in seven games.

In each of those five games, Hunter has been batting from the second spot, the only games he has hit from that position all season. And it's a spot he feels comfortable in.

"These guys are trying to get after me early, not thinking about walking me or anything," Hunter said. "They don't want to get to Albert [Pujols], and they're really focused on [Mike] Trout on the bases."

Before this five-game stretch, Hunter had been hitting .238 with 16 RBIs and six home runs. In just five games, he has raised his average to .275.

With two of the league's hottest hitters in front of him (Trout) and behind him (Pujols), Hunter said he's getting a lot better pitches to hit. He's seeing more fastballs, and even when he does see a breaking ball, it's often thrown for a strike, especially if Trout is on base.

"If you've got somebody like Mike Trout at the top of the lineup, he's getting on base, he has a lot of speed," Hunter said. "You've got a guy like Albert Pujols, who has that name, hitting behind me. I've never had a guy of that caliber hitting behind me. I'm always hitting behind the guy trying to protect that guy. So yeah, it helps out a lot."

Manager Mike Scioscia said he doesn't see Hunter hitting in the two-hole as strictly a lineup for when the Angels play in National League stadiums, either. When the Angels return home, with Hunter second and Kendrys Morales back in the game as the designated hitter, it's a deeper lineup than they had before they went on the road.

"I think if you look at it from just an analytical viewpoint, it doesn't make as much sense as it's turned out to be," Scioscia said. "But Torii is multi-dimensional. He runs well enough to be there. He certainly brings an element of power. He understands the situational hitting component. It's definitely a threat and gives you a presence in the No. 2 hole."