Nate McLouth, CF, Atlanta Braves, 2008 NL All-Star, 2008 Gold Glove
Nate McLouth plays center field for the Atlanta Braves. He was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 25th round of the 2000 draft out of Whitehall High School in Whitehall, Michigan, turning down a scholarship offer to Michigan. His high school career included a remarkable 179 SB in 180 attempts. Nate progressed quickly through the Pirates’ minor league system, making his major league debut at 23 years old, in August of 2005. He spent the next two seasons in the majors in a battle for playing time and finally became the every day center fielder for Pittsburgh in 2008. In his first starting role, Nate hit .276 with 26 HR, 94 RBI, 23 SB, scored 113 runs, and led the NL with 46 doubles. He made the NL All-Star team and won a Gold Glove in center field as well. He was traded to Atlanta on June 3, 2009, and hit a combined .256, 20 HR, 70 RBI, with 19 SB last year. In his career, he has stolen 57 bases on 62 attempts, for a 91.9% success rate. A true five-tool player with surprising power despite being 5’11”, 185 lbs, Nate excels at the plate, on the bases, and in the field.
Geoff Miller: You didn’t get a chance to start every day until the beginning of the 2008 season and you made the All-Star team that year. What did you do to stay patient while you waited for an opportunity to prove yourself?
Nate McLouth: I just reminded myself every day that I was still in the big leagues even though I wasn’t playing every day and I knew that eventually I would get my shot. Finally, that opportunity came and I made the most of it.
GM: Does your approach at the plate change much when you hit second or third as opposed to when you are hitting lead-off?
NM: When I lead off, my approach is really only different if it’s the first at bat of the game or if I’m following the pitcher with two outs and nobody on. In those situations I need to be more patient and see more pitches, but the rest of the time, regardless of where I’m hitting in the order, I try to be aggressive.
GM: What do you do to try to make every AB the same, no matter what situation you are facing? Are there ever times in close games or when you hit with runners in scoring position when you feel more pressure?
NM: I used to feel more pressure in different situations, mostly when I hit with runners in scoring position. But now I just try to hit like I’m hitting with nobody on base every time I come up.
GM: How do you deal with the daily grind of the season from a physical and a mental standpoint?
NM: I try not to look too far ahead, especially at the beginning of the season. I try to play each game and prepare myself for that day instead of thinking about the whole season. It’s such a long season that it can be overwhelming if you look at it like that.
GM: You have managed to move forward throughout your professional career without any real setbacks. How do you continue to get consistent results and how much has your mentality helped you in getting what you want?
NM: For me, it has nothing to do with my numbers and everything to do with my preparation. I have a specific routine and I do it every day. When I get to game time and I have completed my routine, I know I’m where I need to be mentally and that lets me relax and play the game.
GM: What is the most important mental game lesson you have learned in your career?
NM: I have to stay focused only on things that I know I can control. For example, I can’t focus on how nasty the pitcher is that night or I’m going to have a bad night. Instead, I have to focus on knowing that I’ve prepared myself and go to the plate aggressive and looking for a pitch to hit. Or I can’t worry about whether I’m starting or where I am on the depth chart, I just have to focus on what I can do each day. When I focus on things I can control, I don’t feel any pressure.
If you would like to receive new posts from The Winning Mind in Baseball by email, please CLICK HERE.
Geoff Miller’s book, Intangibles: Big-League Stories and Strategies for Winning the Mental Game — in Baseball and in Life, will be released in August, 2012. For more information and free sample chapters, please visit:
For more information, please contact Geoff Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.