Boston Red Sox legend Ted Williams once said that “hitting a baseball is the hardest thing to do in sports.”
Williams may very well have been right – getting a good swing on a 95-mile-per-hour fastball is no easy task.
Brandon Todoruk only makes it look that way.
The Abbotsford Cardinals slugger has put together perhaps the greatest offensive season in the history of the local B.C. Premier Baseball League club. The 17-year-old won the BCPBL’s triple crown, leading the elite under-18 circuit in batting average (.404), runs batted in (32), and home runs (three, tied with five other players).
To put the difficulty of the triple crown feat in perspective, the last time it was accomplished at the major league level was in 1967, when Carl Yastrzemski of the Red Sox paced the American League in all three categories.
Ask Cardinals coach Andy Rempel to break down his star pupil’s all-around ability at the plate, and he says it begins with Todoruk’s discipline in laying off less-than-ideal pitches. It’s a hard-earned skill, to be sure.
But talking to Todoruk about hitting, and it becomes apparent that some of his gifts are natural, as well.
“Ever since I was young, the ball has looked like a balloon coming at me, basically,” said Todoruk, who hits third in the Cards’ batting order and plays primarily at third base.
“I’ve never had a problem seeing the ball, no matter what level I’ve been at. I’ve hit against 95-mile-an-hour pitching, I’ve hit against 90, and I’ve hit against 75. It’s basically all the same to me. It’s just a matter of getting your timing down.
“Most of the things I’ve worked on have to do with my swing – just getting a fluid, level swing. Seeing the ball, I’ve never had a problem with.”
Todoruk’s prodigious plate production has helped to power the Cardinals to a second-half surge after a slow start to the campaign. The Abby club lost 10 of its first 15 games of the season, but a 3-2 victory in the regular season finale on Tuesday against the North Delta Blue Jays enabled the Cards to lock up fifth place in the BCPBL with a 25-23 record. They open the playoffs with a best-of-three series on the road against the fourth-place Victoria Mariners this weekend.
Rempel said the key to the turnaround for his team has been approaching every game like it’s the last game of the year.
“It’s been a playoff mentality for the last 15 to 20 games, and the boys have been playing well,” Rempel said, noting that playing with a sense of urgency for such a long stretch bodes well for his team heading into the post-season.
“I’m excited to get into the playoffs. I’ll put my guys up against any team in the league in a three-game series.”