NEW BRITAIN - Alejandro De Aza and Jonathan Galvez rarely see their names adjacent to one another on the New Britain Bees lineup card, but when they glance at the league leaders in batting average, OPS and on base percentage, they’re neck-and-neck.
De Aza, the Bees’ sure-handed center fielder who came to New Britain with a wealth of major league experience, entered the team’s final series of the first half atop the Atlantic League with a .348 batting average, earning himself an All-Star selection in his first season in the league. Galvez, now in his fifth season in the league and second with the Bees, is close behind with a .318 batting average, as both heavy hitters have combined to pace New Britain as a top-three offense in the league.
“He’s a very good hitter,” Galvez said of De Aza, who is usually found in the third spot in the lineup, while Galvez bats fifth. “He always tells me to do this or that, and just have fun. We do our best every game.”
Galvez, an All-Star selection for the second time, has enjoyed batting two spots behind De Aza and his team-high .407 on base percentage. More times than not, Galvez can step in with an RBI opportunity in De Aza lurking on the bases. Galvez has capitalized in the form of a team-high 11 home runs while driving in 41 runs, the second-best mark on the team.
“I’ve just been focused at the plate,” Galvez said. “I’m glad to be able to concentrate and do my best.”
De Aza has been just as focused, as both Bees have an OPS above .900 and have been a fearsome duo that are easy for manager Mauro Gozzo to pencil into the lineup on game days.
“You look at their stats over the years, they’ve been doing it for a long time,” Gozzo said. “They’re professionals. They’re both quality guys that always give it their all, and they’re going to put up a quality at-bat. They always make a pitcher work.”
Both have been focused at the plate this season, but neither have kept an eye on the Atlantic League leaderboard. Sure, they’re both near the top and have legitimate shots at a batting title, but they wouldn’t know it if you asked them. They’re just too locked in at the plate to worry about how the rest of the league is hitting.
“I don’t think about that,” Galvez said. “I just try to help the team to win ballgames.”
Not surprisingly, De Aza has the same mindset. The pair’s numbers, focus and desire all seem to mirror each other.
“I don’t see myself winning a batting title,” De Aza said, even though he would do just that if the season ended today. “I don’t think about that. I just go out there and do my best to help the team win ballgames.”
Given their laser focus on their approach at the plate, it shouldn’t be a surprise that De Aza and Galvez don’t pay attention to each other’s stat lines either. They may be in a tight battle for the best batting average in the Atlantic League, but neither seems to care. The only competition they’re worried about is the one on the field.
“We just go out there and have fun and try to get a win for the team,” De Aza said. “When one of us makes a good play or a big hit, it pumps the whole team up. I think that helps the team.”
Given how they’ve both performed so far this season, it seems to be helping the team a lot. It’s also producing an intriguing competition for the batting crown, though neither De Aza nor Galvez will likely know about it.
Ryan Chichester can be reached at (860) 801-5094 or firstname.lastname@example.org