NEW BRITAIN - It doesnâ€™t take much to see Jamar Walton has been one of the best hitters over the past two seasons for the New Britain Bees.
After coming off a strong first season with New Britain last year, Walton has done much of the same in 2018. The outfielder is in the top-five on the team in average (.277), home runs (10), RBI (48), multi-hit games (22) and multi-RBI games (13). And for manager Wally Backman, having Waltonâ€™s big bat in the middle of the lineup has been key to the teamâ€™s offense.
â€śHeâ€™s gotten big hit after big hit for us,â€ť Backman said. â€śI know he leads our team in three-run homers [with four]. But heâ€™s gotten big hits for us all year. Heâ€™s a little bit banged up right now - I think he fouls more balls off his legs than Iâ€™ve ever seen in my life - but he battles and has really done a fine job for us.â€ť
Walton believes his preparation, as much as his baseball ability, has been crucial to his production this season.
â€śIâ€™m just trying to stay focused on getting good pitches,â€ť Walton said. â€śBeing able to do the little things when guys are on base, whether itâ€™s moving a guy over or driving a run in. Itâ€™s not always easy, but thatâ€™s when you have to come in and focus a little bit. Going over scouting reports and seeing what the pitchers like to throw in certain counts.â€ť
But the Atlantic League all-star refused to take much of the credit, citing the production the other hitters in the lineup have had to propel the offensive success.
â€śItâ€™s definitely not just me,â€ť Walton said. â€śThe guys in front of me have to get on in order for me to drive them in. So theyâ€™ve been a doing a really good job.â€ť
Walton is also one of the few players on the team who have played under another manager with the Bees. Last season, Stan Cliburn was at the helm, who Walton said had a similar style to Backman.
â€śItâ€™s not too much off from [Cliburn],â€ť Walton said. â€śWally is a really laid-back manager who lets you play. He lets guys go out and have fun. Playing for Wally has been great. Playing for a guy with that much Major League experience and managing experience, he helps us every day.â€ť
Another unexpected help for Walton has been playing at New Britain Stadium, which is a much easier place to play than some other Atlantic League parks, according to the player.
â€śItâ€™s fun playing [in New Britain],â€ť Walton said. â€śItâ€™s one of the better places for me to play because, visually playing the outfield, I can see the ball so well. You go to some other places and itâ€™s tough - I know Somerset is one of the toughest places to hit. Here, we get to see the ball a lot better.â€ť
As the Bees head into a playoff push in the final month of the regular season, the outfielder isnâ€™t too concerened about his individual performance. For the 32-year-old, itâ€™s all about the team.
â€śJust help the team win,â€ť Walton said of his goals for the end of the season. â€śIf you help the team win, everything else will take care of itself. I try not to get too caught up in personal goals. You donâ€™t want to get too high or too low. For me, itâ€™s just all about the team. You know youâ€™re not always going to hit, so whether itâ€™s running a ball down in the outfield or throwing a guy out - somehow contributing to the win.