OAKLAND -- Erick Aybar won't be confused for an RBI machine anytime soon, but the Angels shortstop has continued to evolve in his approach with runners in scoring position and has seen a drastic improvement recently.
From 2009 -- when he started getting consistent playing time -- to 2012, Aybar was a .253/.289/.376 hitter with runners in scoring position. Since then, he's bumped that slash line up to .285/.307/.448. And heading into Sunday, Aybar led the Angels with a .293 batting average in that situation, a mark that has already given him 29 RBIs this season -- just 30 shy of his career high.
It's all about approach, an approach he's gleaned from superstar teammate Albert Pujols.
"Albert helps me out a lot," Aybar said in Spanish. "He always tells me, 'When you have guys on base, you have to think up the middle or the other way.' When you have guys on base, pitchers are going to throw you a lot more breaking pitches to get you out in front or get you to roll over. When you think up the middle, you see the ball deeper and you can react a lot better. I used to try to pull the ball in those situations, but I've been staying back a lot better."
Alden Gonzalez is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Gonzo and "The Show", and follow him on Twitter @Alden_Gonzalez. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.