The Kramer Robertson that has taken the field for LSU the past few weeks has been the one LSU has been looking for.
“He’s playing obsessed right now,” said LSU coach Paul Mainieri. “He’s being the leader we always hoped he would be.”
The senior shortstop is playing obsessed because he said he was going to.
Two weeks ago, Robertson was hitting under .250 against Southeastern Conference pitching, and he made it known that he was not going to pass the blame for LSU’s inconsistent play against conference foes.
“Let’s call a spade a spade,” Robertson said before boarding a bus for Alabama. “I haven’t performed in conference the way that I should. I think that’s having a lot to do with us struggling. I understand it’s a team sport, but when you see yourself as a senior leader, when he sucks, it rubs off on the whole team.
“Put this on me. I need to play better and get my act together. When I do that, I think it’s going to rub off on the whole team.”
Robertson has been true to his word since then.
Leading up to the Auburn series, Robertson has gone 11-for-30 (.367) and has scored nine runs since he shouldered the blame in the most public of ways.
Six of those games have come against SEC pitching, and in those games, Robertson is hitting .308 with seven runs scored.
Since that point, LSU has won five of six in league play, surging from a middling 10-8 record to a game out of first place in the SEC standings. He raised his batting average nearly 20 points against SEC pitching and is knocking on the door of .300 on the season overall.
“I think it’s just willing it to happen,” Robertson said. “I’ve tried to have the best at-bats I can, not trying to do too much. Just going up there and having a good approach, trying to hit the ball hard. Whatever the situation is, trying to do my job.”
Mainieri said his shortstop is swinging the bat “as well as he has all year.”
Of course, this is the time of the year when LSU stands to benefit the most from Robertson playing at his best. Friday’s game against Auburn was LSU’s 50th of the season, and every game seems larger in the middle of an SEC title chase.
“This is the biggest part of the year and he’s … stepping up and doing what he said he was going to do,” senior second baseman Cole Freeman said.
Robertson said he knew he had to get going as LSU entered the stretch run. It wasn’t comfortable publicly addressing his struggles, but after taking ownership he said he feels he’s in position to help LSU get to where it wants to be.
“I’m seeing the ball well, my swing is right where I want it to be,” Robertson said. “And that’s good, going into the last part of the year.
“If I can get going and the offense continues to get better, we can get hot at the right time and do some damage, for sure.”